October 24, 2003





Historical couples on the couch


Romeo to Lancelot: "Nice pecs. You on steroids?" Lancelot: "No. Lithium."


Wallis Simpson to Romeo: "What are your aspirations?" Romeo, uncomprehending: "My ass... ?"


Guinevere, complimenting Mrs. Simpson's outfit: "It's so deceitfully cut, with such a morose melange of material." Mrs. Simpson: "Merci boutique!"


These are some of playwright Marc Mantell's more memorable exchanges from "Madly, in Love," a new musical that puts three legendary problem couples in therapy with the same exhausted shrink (Linda Kerns) and goes nowhere with them. For 2 1/2 hours.


Composer-lyricist Dan Alvy, not to be outdone, has his own clunkers for the hard-working cast. Here's Juliet, singing about Lancelot: "Yes, he has the cutest face/But he seems from outer space." Or the good doctor: "Sometimes I even get thanks/For enduring all this angst."


Musically, Alvy's score boasts one mildly striking motif, in Lancelot's lament, "Guinevere & Arthur," and one passable charm song, "My Favorite Partner," an old-style tap duet for Edward and Mrs. Simpson (choreography by Dan Mojica). The rest is chug and slop, neatly dispatched by a three-piece band and sung with heroic conviction by the cast.


David Galligan's robotic direction only heightens the


cartoonishness, as actors slam randomly back and forth through the metal doors of Dorian Vernacchio's imposing, vaguely sci-fi set.


"Waiting for Something to Happen" is one character's first-act wish number. It's the audience's theme song throughout.

Rob Kendt


"Madly, in Love," Peralta Productions and Shoestring Productions at the Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd. Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. (No performance on Nov. 27; added performance, Nov. 30, 7 p.m.) Ends Dec. 14. $20. (310) 477-2055. 2 hours, 30 minutes.