Frequent commenter on this blog, CSProf, flew in from out west, saw #LLLPlay and has kindly provided an experience and review for us. Here we go. (Thanks so much)
I saw Love, Love, Love at a matinee this weekend. WARNING: This is mostly spoiler-free, but it may have more detail than people want to read if they are planning to see it. In case you don’t want to read the rest, I will start by saying that I thoroughly enjoyed the play and would definitely recommend it to anyone. It was a very well-written and well-acted play, both funny and sad, entertaining and thought provoking.The audience was about half men and half women, of all ages but skewed a little older, and the orchestra seating was full other than a handful of empty seats. The audience laughed throughout even during the darker moments, largely because there are so many funny lines and some physical comedy, even when the characters are behaving at their worst. There was a (partial) standing ovation at the end and two curtain calls.Richard as Kenneth was his most likable in Act I, where he and Sandra are 19. He makes himself youthful by hopping around the stage with exaggerated hand movements, and talking to his brother Henry excitedly about the future. His hair is shaggy and hides his face. He wears an open robe and pajama pants in the scene, but intentionally slouches so that his chest looks concave. The only hint of what really is underneath the robe is that occasionally you can see stomach muscles, which must have been contracted to maintain the slouch. This posture also helps to clarify that Henry is the older brother. Occasionally Kenneth remembers that Henry is the older brother due to the dialog and acts cowed. I thought Kenneth and Henry were quite convincing as siblings who cared about each other but had conflict because of their differences and Kenneth’s self-absorption. When Sandra enters the scene, she is dislikable almost instantly. By the end of Act I, I found Kenneth sympathetic and Sandra awful, and that dynamic continued throughout the rest of the play.In Act II, Kenneth and Sandra are about 40, and Richard looks exactly like himself other than the colorful suit he wears. He is successful and powerful, but also unhappy and disappointed, all of which he conveys with his body language. The kids Rose and Jamie appear in this act. I thought Ben Rosenfield as Jamie was fantastic in this scene, providing the comic relief to what was otherwise a dark act. Zoe Kazan as Rose seemed overwrought at times to me. Although Sandra is once again awful, Amy Ryan is absolutely hilarious in her cluelessness about other peoples’ feelings.Act III starts out dark, but is full of surprises. Kenneth is a man in his 60s, a bit beaten down and moving like a much more fragile version of himself. However, to me he looks 50-something and Amy Ryan looks like the same age as Act II, but with glasses and diamonds. Both need more grey hair and some body fat to look to me like 60-somethings. Zoe Kazan is much more convincing as adult Rose, and has some fantastically memorable lines, some of the best of the play. The interaction between Kenneth and Sandra is believable and moving.
I left the play pondering where there might be parallels in my own life to that of Kenneth and Sandra and their children, which is what a good play makes you do. Had the material been given a more serious treatment, without all the laughter, I think I would have felt down. Had it been a true comedy, I would have felt happier but then forgotten about it. This play seemed to strike the right balance between entertainment and social commentary.Overall, I think Amy Ryan stole the show because her character is written to dominate the story, and she was very funny. As a sympathetic foil, Richard as Kenneth provides some of the emotional depth. When Richard gets to deliver the funny lines, he too is hilarious, but there are just fewer such lines. It was a wonderful treat for me to be able to see this, and I hope many others get the opportunity to go.