Romance is in the air at Little Lake Theatre’s production of Luv, an absurdist comedy by Murray Schisgal.
The setup is simple, if not frantic: Harry Berlin (a perfectly manic Art DeConciliis) is ready to leap to his death from a pedestrian bridge when his former best friend Milt Manville (a cheerfully hapless Greg Caridi) happens upon the scene and stops him. Despondent over the way their lives have turned out, the two men bond and bicker until Milt comes up with a seemingly ingenious solution to their problems: The lonely Harry will elope with Milt’s restless wife, Ellen (scene-stealer Mary Meyer), freeing Milt to pursue other interests (i.e., his mistress). But as these schemes often go, nothing works out quite how the men plan.
Little Lake’s former artistic director Sunny Disney Fitchett helms this production, and she slips back into her behind-the-scenes role with ease. The three-person cast works well together, and while none of the characters is particularly likable, their overwrought interactions never fail to generate a laugh. The set design is also top-notch. Although Luv takes place in New York City, the stage — which is fashioned into an understated yet beautiful suspension bridge — has a decidedly Pittsburgh flavor, a choice that makes this show Little Lake’s own.
The biggest detriment to Luv is time itself. The play was first produced in 1964, and many of the references sprinkled throughout the show, while whip-smart and relevant half a century ago, will be lost on most modern audiences. Additionally, a crux of the first act is the difficulty Milt faces in pursuing a divorce from Ellen; these days, in an era when couples marry and divorce on a whim, this rings a little hollow. Luv is the sort of play that might have been daring and bawdy in its time, but is rather quaint and antiquated in retrospect.
Nevertheless, the cast is winning, and the laughs just keep on coming, so any shortcomings soon become easy to overlook. Luv might not be all you need, but it is certainly a fabulous journey.