WHAT ABOUT LUV?, Attic Playhouse. Murray Schisgal’s Luv was a textbook example of 60s neurotic romantic comedy, a genre best exemplified in middle-era Neil Simon and early Woody Allen. And in 1984 lyricist Susan Birkenhead, composer Howard Marren, and book writer Jeffrey Sweet gave Luv an award-winning musical treatment. But it’s uncertain what appeal Schisgal’s dated sitcom saga–about a suicidal guy who falls in love with his college buddy’s wife on the night he plans to kill himself–might hold for contemporary theatergoers. Perhaps the plight of lovelorn New Yorkers will always have an audience, despite old-school humor consisting of variations on the antediluvian “take my wife, please” theme popularized by Henny Youngman.
This material might have gone down easier as performed by Elaine May, Peter Falk, and Jack Lemmon in the 1967 film version, or by Nathan Lane and Judy Kaye in the musical’s New York premiere, which won two Outer Critics’ Circle Awards. But in this uninspired, disjointed production, the predictable plot is even less compelling, as are Marren’s bouncy but derivative score and Birkenhead’s unimaginative lyrics, despite some nice singing by David Belew. Director Jean Losquadro leans heavily on cartoon cuteness, attempting to lighten some of the story’s more hackneyed elements by showing that the actors are in on the joke. But there’s little to be gained by satirizing–or, for that matter, remaining faithful to–something that was once middle-of-the-road and is now completely outmoded. –Adam Langer