It may not have been the lyrics of the Beatles song “All you Need is Love” that inspired Michael Bartlett to write Love, Love, Love. Instead it may have been the Beatle’s performance of this song when it was broadcast worldwide on television. This 1967 broadcast was indicative of limitless possibilities. So when the play opens everything seems possible and free love abounds. But are love and the endless desire for freedom enough?
The show is cleverly divided into three acts. The first act introduces us to Kenneth and Sandra, free-spirited 19 year old students, and Kenneth’s older brother (who after this act is not seen again in human form). Kenneth and Sandra are immersed in the altruism of the early Sixties which is fueled by free love and grass and, at this point in the play, only a hint of self-indulgence. That is until Act 2 which is set in the 1990’s. Kenneth and Sandra are a middle-aged married couple with children.Their love is gone. Alcohol has replaced the grass. Their narcissism is unwavering and probably the root cause of the family’s angst. By Act 3, a couple of decades later, these seniors try to come to terms with themselves and their children and reflect on who and what they’ve become.
Music moves the show through time. Clothing, sets and props reinforce the time periods. Unfortunately, as intriguing and quirky as parts of the play are, the overall effort doesn’t really work. The characters aren’t fully developed and end up seeming more like caricatures. I felt that Michael Bartlett was trying to make a political statement about the self-absorption of boomers, but couldn’t decide if his play should be drama or comedy. So, that left the actors to do what they could with what little they had to work. A special mention goes to the women of Love, Love, Love – Amy Ryan and Zoe Kazan.They did great job transforming themselves from endearing to loathsome. But even with Mr. Bartlett’s insight in this generation, he should have known this play needed more than love, love, love. LAR
Roundabout at Laura Pels Theater
Ticket price: $99
Discounts available: save $10 w/Theatermania, Playbill, BroadwayBox. Also check seat filler organizations.
Runs thru: December 18, 2016
Running time: approximately 2 hours, 5 minutes with two 10-minute intermissions