29 December 2016

Luv at Park Theatre was fun

Luv had been on my want-to-see list for a while, just because it sounded like fun. It also helped that it won a number of Tony awards and nominations, among them Best Play and Best Author of a Play when it was first produced on Broadway in 1964.

It moved to the want-to-see list to the booked-to-see list only a few hours before I went to see it as I toyed with my schedule for the day, eventually choosing the matinee performance over the evening one.

Park Theatre may be some distance away from home but it was a simple enough journey with a train to Vauxhall and then a tube to Finsbury Park. The only hassle was that the north exit at Finsbury Park was closed leaving me with a 500m walk to the theatre rather than a 100m one.

I arrived just before 3pm for a 3:15pm show and a short queue had already formed, as I had expected. I grabbed a tea and joined the queue some of which dissipated when people realised that they were in the wrong queue as they were there to see the other show in Park200. We did not have long to wait and we were soon allowed to go in.

I was surprised my the layout. On all my previous visits there had been seating on two or three sides of the stage but this time it was laid out traditionally with the stage across one end of the room and then several straight rows of seats.

My good timing got me a seat in the middle of the front row where I faced a bridge and two benches. There a man was contemplating suicide until an unexpected encounter with a school friend from fifteen years earlier.

The two mens lives had gone very differently since school, one had struggled to find any direction and that was why he was not contemplating suicide and the other had become a financial success and he even showed us his silk underpants to prove it. The underpants reveal was a taste of the humour that ran through the play, quirky and unexpected. To give another example from early on that I liked, the successful man said that he was more in love than he was when he got married the only problem was his wife would not let him get a divorce so that he could marry the woman he loved. End of spoliers.

Then the wife joined the two men on the bridge and the triumvirate was complete. And what a strange and complicated triumvirate it proved to be as it morphed into a play about three very different characters each frustrated with aspects of their lives.

As the story developed the witty dialogue continued. It was something like a long episode of Frasier with some distinct, and distinctly odd, characters finding themselves in an unusual situation and trying to get the best for themselves out of it. And like Frasier the humour was solid and steady but more inclined to conjure broad smiles than audible laughs. If you liked Frasier then you would like Luv. I liked Frasier.

The only slight disappointment was they all played their parts with American accents (and rightly so) which meant that it was hard to tell which one was Rex Fairbrother in The Archers. I looked it up afterwards and it was the successful man, not the failure as I had thought as he looked more like Rex.

Luv was an ideal seasonal tonic. Light and fluffy enough to lift the spirits with enough intelligence in there too to keep the brain ticking over.

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