Are there any fans of the sitcom Love, American Style out there? If you count yourself as one, then you should certainly see Infinite Jest’s Luv, American Style, which is essentially a modernized and staged tribute to the ‘70’s TV show. The performance even opens and closes with projected credits to the cast and crew, and features a cover of the original Love, American Style theme by DC band MUNDY. Co-directed by George Grant and Stephen Jarrett, Luv, American Style features four short comedic scenes, each about love in some way. Between the scenes, much like in the original sitcom, there are quick filmed skits shown via projector.
The scenes themselves are all set in a specific D.C. locale, which proves to be a nice touch in Luv.
A Date with a Stranger, written by Cherie Vogelstein and Directed by George Grant, is set in the Johnny Rockets at Pentagon City Mall. It features two strangers, Paula (Kathryn Winkler) and Clark (Klenn Harrigan), who meet there for the first time. They subsequently go through all the stages of a long-term relationship in about 10 minutes, while a mysterious man (Evan Crump) tries to enjoy his coffee in peace.
Crazy Eights, by playwright David Lindsay-Abaire and directed by Stephen Jarrett, is set in a DuPont Circle Apartment. Connie (Jennifer Robison) comes home to find her parole officer (Nello DeBlasio) asleep at her kitchen table. Benny, the parole officer, tries to find the right way to ask Connie out, as she tries to figure out why Benny is in her apartment.
In Mallory Square, by Christopher Demos Brown and directed by George Grant, two couples meet for dinner in a DC townhouse. Sean and Josh (Evan Crump and Charles Lee) ask Jen and Andy (Kathryn Winkler and Klenn Harrigan) to help them have a child, specifically asking Jen to be their surrogate mother. This stirs up tensions and makes for an intriguing scene.
Lastly, David Ives’ Sure Thing, directed by Stephen Jarret, features Jennifer Robison as Betty, and Nello DeBlasio as Bill. The two meet at an Adams Morgan Coffeehouse, and seem destined for one another- every time something goes hilariously wrong in their encounter, an offstage bell rings and they start their conversation over, eventually leading both of them to say just the right thing, and head off to the movies together.
Crazy Eights and Sure Thing (which you might know from the Ives collection All in the Timing), beyond having an obvious advantage of excellent writing, were each tight, funny, and extremely energetic. Robison and DeBlasio, who played lead parts in both scenes, share a delightful chemistry, and are engaging and extremely genuine from the first line they speak. Director Stephen Jarrett has a knack for comedy, and seems to understand the timing and energy required. A Date with a Stranger and Mallory Square, however, lack energy, timing, and even comedy. At my performance, actors were struggling with their lines in these two scenes.
Infinite Jest’s Luv, American Style has a unique and interesting concept, unlike anything else you’ll find at this year’s Fringe. There are lots of laughs to be had.
Luv, American Style, plays at Fort Fringe’s Redrum- 612 L Street, NW, in Washington, DC. Remaining performance times are July 17th at 8:00 pm, July 19th at 8:45 pm, July 25th at 10 pm, and July 27th at 12:15 pm. For more information and to buy tickets, go to their Capital Fringe Page.