LUV By Murray Schisgal
Directed by Justin Regula
Dark Side of Saturn Theatre
Orlando Shakespeare Center, Orlando FL

There’s more than a bit of vaudeville on this stage; while this is notionally a twisted romance its entertainment value comes from physical humor, word play and suicide jokes. We open with sad sack Harry (Corey Volence) about to jump off a very low bridge. His life has fallen apart, his dreams are destroyed and he packs a noose just to be double certain. Old school buddy Milt (Michael Knight) happens by; he’s so successful he wears imported silk undies and his pits don’t stink. Amazingly, he has just the thing to cheer up Harry: he’s looking to ditch his wife Ellen (Lauren Morrison) who refused to give him a divorce. It’s still 1965 and while there’s sexual revolution, she prefers to sit with Milt in misery for the rest of their natural lives. If only Ellen could fall in love with Harry… Voila! It’s a done deal and they hit it off in mere minutes of stage time. By act two we discover that Harry is even worse than we thought, even the audience is ready to push him over and hold him under.

What works best here is the interplay between Milt and Harry. They push, punch and berate each other like only old friends can, and dish out a few rounds of Dozens to sweeten the deal. Ellen seems too ready to change her mind at the whim of the author, but that girl can flirt and I think all the guys in the audience were picking up on her desires. Some humor derives from the attempts at suicide; both men jump off the bridge only to return slightly damp and uninjured. If there’s one thing Harry should notice it’s self-extinguishment requires altitude, and in a tall city like New York there should be more opportunities than a Central Park ornamental bridge. Intimate, silly, and sometimes a flash back to a time gone by, “LUV” is a lovely evening if you’re a bit bitter on romance in general or a ill-chosen mate in particular.

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