Associate New York Theatre Critic
Kenneth (Richard Armitage) and Sandra (Amy Ryan) are 19 when they meet in 1967, in a small London flat of Henry (Alex Hurt), Kenneth’s older brother. Sandra quickly forgets that she is on a date with an “old and conventional” Henry, and finds that she has much more in common with the Rock and Roll and marijuana loving Kenny. But most importantly, he immediately supports Sandra’s desire to run away and to never stop enjoying the summer of love and freedom.
But much like the seasons change, people’s lives move on. In act two, we see Kenneth and Sandra spending the autumn days of their love in a spacious house expensively furnished and decorated with paintings, in the company of the fruit of their marriage, Jamie (Ben Rosenfield) and Rose (Zoe Kazan). What else can one dream about? Yet restless husband and wife fight at their daughter’s birthday causing much pain to their children and much laughter to the audience.
Playwright, Mike Bartlett, doesn’t hold back his sarcasm aimed toward each of the characters. In “Love, Love, Love” he shows the family members with all their flaws, all their suppressed and voiced desires. In a three-act show we get to see how free-spirited children of the 60s transformed into money making self-involved adults, and how parenting and relationship decisions backfire at Kenneth and Sandra.
Directed by Michael Mayer, the talented actors bring out dynamic and enjoyable performances. Amy Ryan is impressive in covering a person’s lifetime; with ease she plays a 19-year old, 43-year old and 63-year old Sandra. Zoe Kazan is equally memorable as both teenager and as a 37-year old woman. Both female characters are pushing the story forward and are more outspoken, where Kenneth and Jamie, father and son, are more like followers. With that said, both Richard Armitage and Ben Rosenfield make a great father-son team, supporting of each other but dysfunctional in the third act of the play.
“Love, Love, Love” is a story about generational differences shown through one nuclear family. Much of the comedic effect comes from the difference between parents and children, with parents jokingly dancing through life and the kids’ lives filled with drama. Mike Bartlett raises some very down-to-earth questions: how much freedom should parents give to their children, how open should they be about their relationship in front of them? Should parents sacrifice everything for the well being of their kids? These bitter questions about life come sugarcoated in a smart and fast-moving comedy, which makes them easy to swallow and take some time to digest after the show.
‘Love, Love, Love’ runs through December 18th in Roundabout at Laura Pels Theatre at 111 West 46th st, New York. For more information on the Roundabout Theatre Company and tickets visit: http://www.roundabouttheatre.org/Shows-Events/Love-Love-Love.aspx Photo: Joan Marcus