Out of the dim theatrical past -- the mid-'60s, to be exact -- comes Murray Schisgal's "Luv," a farcical allegory about romantic games people play on a bridge suited to suicide.
"Luv" was always a gentle piece of theater, a purring, frolicsome kitten of a comedy. Alan Arkin, Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson and director Mike Nichols made it into a major Broadway hit in 1964. It hasn't been produced too often since, perhaps because well-meaning novices sense this is a work that would not survive the attentions of well-meaning novices. But at the Rockville Civic Center (through this weekend), it has been handled with care and skill by a talented cast and director.
David DiGiannantonio gives a particularly vigorous and satisfying performance as Harry Berlin, the suicidal schnook who is saved from death by an old school chum and groomed to marry the chum's wife. DiGiannantonio looks and moves a bit like Prof. Irwin Corey -- or maybe it's just the pair of sneakers that suggests the comparison -- and his comic style is in the Jack Lemmon vein, an admirable vein indeed.
Greta Lambert, on the other hand, plays Ellen with a slight Elaine May air. Her opening scene is a delight, as she lectures her husband on the decline of their marriage, using a teacher's pointer and a window-shade-style graph of their sexual experiences by seven-day periods. And she and DiGiannantonio make a jolly team as they test their new-found love by punching and kicking each other and discarding each other's clothes, then asking, "Do you still love me?"
Richard Averbach may be a little too Casper Milquetoasty as Milt, but he displays a nice comic touch with such lines as, "I am more in love now than the day I got married -- but my wife won't give me a divorce." And the dog -- there's a dog too -- is a veritable canine laugh riot.