KPBS AIRDATE: April 04, 2003
If I want watch a sitcom, I turn on the TV. Even during wartime, I want more than mindless psychobabble at the theater. As a friend put it after the nearly 3-hour marathon of the Globe’s new “Loves and Hours,” “The show is light on the Loves, heavy on the Hours.”
This world premiere smacks of masturbatory mid-life male fantasy. Playwright Stephen Metcalfe is obviously confronting his mortality and sexuality. The centerpiece of this unfunny comedy is a divorced man who addresses his angst to the audience, as a parade of women waltzes on and off stage — a smartass sister, his late-life-lesbian ex-wife, a middle-age married neighbor who’s having an affair with his 20 year-old son, and his own two love interests, both of whom, of course, find him irresistible — a peer and a perky young thing the age of his daughter. Oh yes, and his daughter’s in love with an older man, while his best friend just married a bimbette 1/2 his age. The May-December theme is tiresome and overplayed, and the women are consistently cardboard foils for the confused central character. Metcalfe s writing in the style of “Seinfeld,” a show he refers to, along with a hotly debated movie, “Pretty Woman,” on which he was a contributing writer. In true sitcom style, no dramatic moment can last more than a nanosecond, before it is immediately swallowed up in a smarmy, sarcastic, trite or heavy-handed laugh setup. Whenever anything too serious happens, drinking is unequivocally in order. This is the same territory endlessly trod by playwright Pete Gurney — privileged, SUV-driving WASPs who have nothing better to do than imbibe, while they bed anything that crosses their path.
There is no redeeming or enlightening message here, certainly not about love. The points that are earnestly, conspiratorially directed to the audience are embarrassingly sophomoric. Overall, the play is too frivolous and inconsequential for a theater the caliber of the Globe. It is wholly unworthy of the prodigious talent of an internationally acclaimed director like Jack O’Brien. O’Brien, as always, makes the best of a situation. He puts his competent cast through the motions of making this a laugh-fest, for those willing to go along for the puerile ride.
As I see it, the only witty and urbane element of the evening is Robert Morgan’s spare, suggestive scenic design, moving panels combined with Sage Marie Carter’s projections, tempting views of San Diego locales. Overall, though, for lower-cost midlife love advice, platitudes and laughs on cue, kick back and turn on the tube.
I’m Pat Launer, for KPBS news.
>©2003 Patté Productions Inc.