Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern


Also see John's review of The Santaland Diaries

Avi Hoffman, Patti Gardner and Steven J. Carroll
The Plaza Theatre presents the Murray Schisgal's comedy Luv. Set in Manhattan, Luv is the story of two college friends, Harry and Milt, who are reunited when the latter stops the former from jumping off a bridge. As they share semi-humorous hard-luck stories, each discovers the other is equally miserable. A glimmer of hope emerges when the married Milt sees in his single friend Harry an answer to his primary problem. Trapped in a passionless marriage to his wife Ellen, he tries to foist her off on Harry so he can run off with his mistress. Milt, Harry and Ellen each discover more about the peculiar pursuit of love than they had imagined in this tale that earned Schisgal Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Author of a Play.

Luv is written in a style reminiscent of Neil Simon with roots in theatre of the absurd. The trappings of absurdist humor require a more broad, slap-stick style delivery at times that is good for a chuckle, but looking for logic in some of the randomness can be futile. Schisgal's dialogue does not flow as organically as Simon's. At times it therefore feels like a near miss. One can only hope for a strong understanding of and commitment to the style by the actors. Though this dated script may not appeal to everyone's taste, the production at the Plaza Theatre delivers solid performances by Avi Hoffman, Patti Gardner and Steven J. Carroll.

Hoffman calls upon his considerable physical comedy skills to make the most of his role as Milt, complete with quasi spit-takes and intentionally ridiculous costumes. Patti Gardner somehow manages to look glamorous as she patiently works her timing to her best advantage as Ellen. Steven J. Carroll rides a zany, emotional roller-coaster as the underdog Harry. While he makes the ride look easy, one can see how exhausting the role can be for even a skilled actor. He manages to do it all just a bit understated enough to let the other actors shine. This production is also notable for an exceptionally well executed scenic design by Sean McClelland that transforms the space into something almost unrecognizable.

The original Broadway production of Luv opened on November 11, 1964, at the Booth Theatre. It transferred to the Broadhurst, and then the Helen Hayes, before completing a run of 901 performances. It received Tony Awards for Best Director, Best Producer and Best Scenic Design. The 1967 film version of the play starring Jack Lemmon, Peter Falk and Elaine May was far less successful.

American playwright and screenwriter Murray Schisgal won his first recognition for the 1963 off-Broadway double-bill The Typists and The Tiger, which won him the Drama Desk Award. In addition to Luv, his other credits include Jimmy Shine, 74 Georgia Avenue, and All Over Town. He is best known as co-writer of the screenplay for Tootsie, however, for which he received Oscar and Golden Globe nominations, and for which he won awards from the Writers Guild of America, New York Film Critics Circle, National Society of Film Critics and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association.

This production of Luv appeared at the Plaza Theatre through December 30, 2012. The Plaza Theatre is located at 262 S. Ocean Blvd in the Plaza Del Mar in Manalapan. The Plaza Theatre, a not-for-profit 250-seat theatre, is home to a variety of light-hearted shows, with an occasional gripping drama. For more information, please call 561-588-1820 or visit

Harry Berlin: Steven J. Carroll
Milt Manville: Avi Hoffman*
Ellen Manville: Patti Gardner

Director: Andy Rogow+
Scenic Design: Sean McClelland
Lighting Design: Glen Rovinelli
Sound Design: David Hart
Paul Thomas
Costume Design: Linda Shorrock
Stage Manager: Missy McArdle

*Indicates member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

+Indicates member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society

Photo: Tina Vallant

See the current theatre season schedule for southern Florida.

-- John Lariviere

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