Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Off-Broadway Review: Love, Love, Love


Love, Love, Love
By Mike Bartlett
Directed by Michael Mayer
Roundabout Theatre Company
through Dec. 18

By Lauren Yarger
What's It All About?
Three looks at a family, beginning in 1967 during the height of Beatle mania when Kenneth (Richard Armitage "The Hobbit") and Sandra (Amy Ryan, who has multiple stage credits, but who is probably best know for TV's "The Office") meet. Sandra actually is with Kenneth's more conservative brother, Henry (Alex Hurt), but when Kenneth arrives, the chemistry can't be denied and the couple refuses to deny their need for each other -- which might actually bring a bigger high than the booze and drugs they like in the free-living culture they have embraced. Henry isn't happy, but is wise enough to realize that losing Sandra might be the best thing that ever happened to him.

In a second scene, we see the couple as unhappy parents of problematic teenagers Jamie (Ben Rosenfield) and Rose (Zoe Kazan).  Sandra and Kenneth can't seem to get their minds off of themselves and their own needs long enough to pay attention to their kids, even though they supposedly are celebrating Rose's 16th birthday. It seems that a new weed -- infidelity -- has has crept into the marriage as well, and has choked out the notion that  "love is all you need."

In the third vignette, the family is reunited for Henry's funeral. Poor Rose is blaming her unhappy life and her inability to make something of it on her parents. Jamie, meanwhile, has given up trying to make anything of himself and his father enables his pointless existence. It's an unhappy indictment on the values of the baby-boom generation and might have been more accurately titles "Selfish, Selfish, Selfish."

What Are the Highlights?
Strong performances, particularly from Ryan who manages to make a pretty unlikable person likable,

What Are the Lowlights?
It's kind of a bummer, even if there is truth in playwright Mike Bartlett's storytelling (it clocks in at just over two hours). The dark humor misfires because, unlike Bartlett's King Charles III, which poked fun at Britain's royal family, dysfunction in the typical American family strikes us as more tragic.

More information:
Love, Love, Love plays at the Laura Pels Theatre at the Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre, 111 West 46th St., NYC through Dec. 18. Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 7:30 pm; Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm. Tickets $99: roundabouttheatre.org; 212-719-1300.

Credits:
Set Design Derek McLane; Costume Design Susan Hilferty; Lighting Design David Lander; Sound Design Karl Harada; Hair and Wig Design Campbell Young Associates; Dialect Coach Stephen Gabis.
FAMILY-FRIENDLY FACTORS:
-- Language
-- God's name taken in vain

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Our reviews are professional reviews written without a religious bias. At the end of them, you can find a listing of language, content or theological issues that Christians might want to know about when deciding which shows to see.

** Mature indicates that the show has posted an advisory because of content. Usually this means I would recommend no one under the age of 16 attend.

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

Theater Critic Lauren Yarger

My Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

She was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater (the only ones you can find in the US with an added Christian perspective) at http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/.

She is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection (http://ctarts.blogspot.com), an award-winning website featuring theater and arts news for the state. She is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com and is a theater reviewer for the Manchester Journal-Inquirer. She previously served as Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp.com and as Connecticut and New York reviewer for American Theater Web.

Yarger is a book reviewer for Publishers Weekly and freelances for other sites. She is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.

She is a freelance writer and playwright and member of The Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association and The League of Professional Theatre Women. She served as a judge for the SDX Awards presented by the Society of Professional Journalists. She also is a member of the Connecticut Critics Circle and the CT Press Club.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger also worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, the Hartford Symphony Orchestra and served for nine years as the Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. She lives with her husband in West Granby, CT. They have two adult children.

Copyright

All material is copyright 2008- 2017 by Lauren Yarger. Reviews and articles may not be reprinted without permission. Contact reflectionsinthelight@gmail.com

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Key to Content Notes:

God's name taken in vain -- means God or Jesus is used in dialogue without speaking directly to or about them.

Language -- means some curse words are used. "Minor" usually means the words are not too strong or that it only occurs once or twice throughout the show.

Strong Language -- means some of the more heavy duty curse words are used.

Nudity -- means a man or woman's backside, a man's lower front or a woman's front are revealed.

Scantily clad -- means actors' private areas are technically covered, but I can see a lot of them.

Sexual Language -- means the dialogue contains sexually explicit language but there's no action.

Sexual Activity -- means a man and woman are performing sexual acts.

Adultery -- Means a married man or woman is involved sexually with someone besides their spouse. If this is depicted with sexual acts on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Sex Outside of Marriage -- means a man and woman are involved sexually without being married. If this is depicted sexually on stage, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Homosexuality -- means this is in the show, but not physically depicted.

Homosexual activity -- means two persons of the same sex are embracing/kissing. If they do more than that, the list would include "sexual activity" as well.

Cross Dresser -- Means someone is dressing as the opposite sex. If they do more than that on stage the listing would include the corresponding "sexual activity" and/or "homosexual activity" as well.

Cross Gender -- A man is playing a female part or a woman is playing a man's part.

Suggestive Dancing -- means dancing contains sexually suggestive moves.

Derogatory (category added Fall 2012) Language or circumstances where women are referred to or treated in a negative and demeaning manner.

Other content matters such as torture, suicide or rape will be noted, with details revealed only as necessary in the review itself.

The term "throughout" added to any of the above means it happens many times throughout the show.

Reviewing Policy

I receive free seats to Broadway and Off-Broadway shows made available to all voting members of the Outer Critics Circle and The Drama Desk, the two professional critics organizations with journalists covering NY theater. Journalistically, I provide an unbiased review and am under no obligation to make positive statements. Sometimes shows do not make tickets available to reviewers. If these are shows my readers want to know about (I review all Broadway shows and pertinent Off-Broadway shows), I will purchase a ticket. If a personal friend is involved in a production, I'll let you know, but it won't influence a review. If I feel there is a conflict, I won't review their portion of the production.

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