Roundabout Theatre Company
Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO
Julia C. Levy, Executive Director
Sydney Beers, General Manager
Steve Dow, Chief Administrative Officer
Love, Love, Love
(Love, Love, Love Website)
By Mike Bartlett
Directed by Michael Mayer
Richard Armitage, Alex Hurt, Zoe Kazan
Ben Rosenfield, Amy Ryan
Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre
Harold and Miriam Steinberg Center for Theatre
111 West 46th Street
New York, NY
(Roundabout Laura Pels Theatre Website)
Set Design: Derek McLane
Costume Design: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Design: David Lander
Sound Design: Kai Harada
Wig & Hair Design: Campbell Young Associates
Dialect Coach: Stephen Gabis
Production Stage Manager: Davin De Santis
Casting: Jim Carnahan, CSA
Press Representative: Polk & Co.
Love, Love, Love General Manager: Nicholas J. Caccavo
Director of Marketing: Elizabeth Kandel
Production Management: Aurora Productions
Director of Development: Lynne Guggenheim Gregory
Founding Director: Gene Feist
Adams Associate Artistic Director: Scott Ellis
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 9, 2016 Matinee
Mike Bartlett’s Love, Love, Love, titled for a phrase in the Beatles tune, “All You Need Is Love”, unwraps the plight of children born to the aging crowd, who were teens and college students in the 1960’s. The modus operandi of that era was that it was suddenly OK to freely date, drink, dance, and divorce, of your own free will, with no regard for the fallout of family and friends. Depending on the beginning, middle, or end of the 60’s, you could add, for some, recreational drugs to the au courant tools for self-expression. Mr. Bartlett, favorably reviewed on these pages for his future play about Britain’s royal family, King Charles III, likes to write dialogue in iambic pentameter, and Love, Love, Love exudes a rhythm of its own.
Divided into three acts, taking place in London, 1967, suburban London, early 1990’s, and countryside, London, seventeen years later, we follow the lives of Kenneth (Richard Armitage), his older brother, Henry (Alex Hurt), Henry’s girlfriend, Sandra (Amy Ryan), and Sandra and Kenneth’s two children, Jamie (Ben Rosenfield) and Rose (Zoe Kazan). Acts I and II are followed by an intermission, so the stage hands can fully change the setting and the cast can age, through makeup, wigs, costumes, and personality. This is such a satisfying and thought-provoking new play, that I certainly hope to visit it again, soon.
In Act I, the construction-working, generally tense Henry is preparing for a date with a woman he’s recently begun dating. His scholarship-winning, Oxford-student, younger brother, Kenneth is lounging about in a colorful silk robe, crashing on his college break with his financially better off brother. Derek McLane’s set is dusty and worn, with soiled-painted walls and Salvation Army-reject furniture. Kenneth refuses to leave, lights his cigarette, pours his drink, slouches about, and then Sandra arrives. She’s wearing costume designer, Susan Hilferty’s psychedelically colorful mini-dress, and, without missing a beat, she makes a beeline for Kenneth, with nary a care about her beau Henry. When Henry returns from a run to find fish and chips for the trio, Sandra and Kenneth are dancing and kissing. Henry’s gestures reek of pathos and angst, as he leaves.
Act II opens with Sandra and Kenneth, married with teens, Jamie and Rose, in a Danish furniture and modern area rug-decorated home. It’s Rose’s 16th birthday, but Sandra and Kenneth each decide to confess to the other of adulterous affairs, and Sandra tells the children, as they eat the cake, with candles still smoldering, that a divorce is imminent. Jamie puts on blasting music, while Rose screams upstairs. Act III resolves or partly resolves the fate of this upscale brood, within a gorgeous set (bravo to Mr. McLane), to open French door-sound effects of birds and cicadas. Sandra and Kenneth survive and flourish, breathing the rarefied air of their tight, familiar space. The audience observes the fate of Henry, Rose, and Jamie, as the poignant tale unfolds. Mr. Bartlett has reached across the fourth wall to the Roundabout audience, many of whom are Baby Boomers, and touched raw nerves. The stark difference between the financial security and lifestyle choices of Sandra and Kenneth, from that of Henry, Jamie, and Rose, figures into the third act’s dramatic, but separate, confrontations and reconciliations.
Ms. Kazan, particularly, performs the role of a 16 year-old (Act II) and a 33 year-old (Act III) with extraordinary talent and persuasive persona. Her posture and image mature from scene to scene, but her inner anxiety remains youthfully consistent. Mr. Rosenfield, as well, in a less featured role, exudes the confusion of the young teen and the dysfunctional young adult with credible skill. Mr. Hurt, in a minor role, is stunning, making a strong impression throughout his time onstage. Mr. Armitage ages with tremendous change in expression, demeanor, vocal depth, and physicality. His apparent obliviousness to his breezy, self-serving behavior makes the plight of his sphere of relatives all the more luminous. Ms. Ryan, who brilliantly begins as a shrill, annoying, giggly-on-marijuana student, morphs into a self-absorbed, shrill, giggly-on-wine ex-wife. Michael Mayer, director, deserves kudos for such nuanced staging and dramatic shifts in acting. Sound and lighting are also impeccable, and hair & wig-designer, Campbell Young Associates, should be credited for Ms. Ryan's and Ms. Kazan's styling, decade to decade. This play deserves a sequel, please, Mr. Bartlett.