Guest Post: #LLLPlay by CSProf

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-9-21-45-amFrequent 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.

11 thoughts on “Guest Post: #LLLPlay by CSProf

  1. Thanks CSProf for sharing your impressions. A really interesting reading, I think RA loves working with his physicality (if it is the right term) to convey a character, in this instance 3 different stages of the same one. I understand, having read the play, what you mean about it pushing the reader/audience to think. It’s “simple” only at a first sight, but as any really good piece of theatre, it forces you to think, to put yourself in that situation, to try and understand each character. I love Bartlett and his gaunt writing, and I think he found the right measure in humor and sadness/despair in LLL. I won’t see it, sadly, but the last scene is so moving in the script, even if so horribly selfish, that in the end I thought, well, after all, it’s all about love. All the best and the worst we can do in our lives, it’s all about love.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t want to say more than you and I have said about the last scene, but when you think that 20 years have gone by since the events of Act II, it really doesn’t make sense. But it is nevertheless moving.


  2. Thanks for your comments. I look forward to reading other peoples’ experiences when more people have had a chance to see the play. And I guess there will soon be critics’ reviews when the play opens in a couple weeks.

    I didn’t want to put this in the main text of my post, but I had to wonder who was Mike Bartlett’s inspiration for Sandra. I sincerely hope he wasn’t close to someone like Sandra!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks csprof–I think we may have been at the same performance this weekend! I agree with you that Sandra is the “flashy” role–she’s written to be the catalyst for a lot of the action and as soon as she walks on she’s so larger than life/outrageous that you can understand why both brothers become so quickly fascinated with her. I also agree that RA’s physicality is a marvel to behold–his mannerisms really define his age, as much as I fixate on his hair, lol! I was really taken with how much lesser he seemed in Act–it was only a 10 minute interval but he seemed to have slimmed down, somehow seemed more fragile than he was in Act 2. I agree that the costume/make up designer could have done more to visibly age him–padded his middle, for example–but that both RA and Amy Ryan did a fabulous job conveying their respective ages. RA as Kenneth I think does have a more complete character arc than Sandra–his is the less predictable personality while Sandra is over-the-top but fairly one note.

    I didn’t quite buy her lamentation at the end that she thought her children would be heroes–she honestly seemed too self-absorbed to have made that kind of remark, but her anger at what she considers Rose’s lack of appreciation for what her parents gave her did feel real.


    • I agree that Sandra’s character is one note, and Rose’s too. Kenneth and Henry feel more like real people, as does Jamie in Act II and parts of Act III.

      MORE SPOILER: You’re right. Sandra didn’t care enough about her daughter to know about her life so why would she care that her daughter is not a success. It was probably the only truly introspective line she had.


    • Just to say, Daphne, that I have really appreciated all your tweets which have been so detailed that they have been like reading a ‘proper’ review. I’m looking forward to hearing from you if you go again because you are picking out the ways in which RA seems to be improving upon his performance.


  4. thank you for all the details! It’s really nice to her people’s more complete thoughts on the experience. And to know more about how the characters come across. Those 10 min intervals are quite a challenge to make the age gap transformations, but it sounds like what they do is still pretty effective.


  5. Thank you very much, CSProf. Your review is really appreciated by someone who is unlikely to see this. I shall go back to my copy of the play and reread it, keeping all you have said in mind.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s