One thing that can be said for Bill Cosgriff’s Love, Sex & Real Estate is that the title is dead on accurate: It is about the vagaries of love, the foolishness of sex and a posh piece of real estate, but definitely not a deep dive into any of them, veering dangerously close to sit-com territory.
The play is bookended by two monologues delivered directly to the audience by young, confused Ugo (an adorable, earnest Rohan Lilien) who watches helplessly as his mother, Allison (Katharine McLeod, elegant and sexy) and real estate broker, John (Eric Percival, delightfully, foolishly amorous), are cheating on his father, the artist Valter (Frank Hanky, convincing as a long-suffering artist and cuckold).
Sol (Roger Hendricks Simon, playing the philosophical Jewish alter cocker with skill) owns and lives in the Village building with the desirable duplex apartment, the real estate of the title. John negotiates with Sol to convince him to let the flat to Allison, Valter and Ugo. Sol plays the cantankerous landlord to the hilt, making condition after condition before he allows the deal to go through.
Allison and John, first seen and heard making love, are planning to run off together and, out of guilt, she wants Valter to have a nice place to live when she leaves him. Ugo seems to be an afterthought even though John tries hard to accept him as a necessary part of his new life with Allison.
Things come to a head when Allison, John, Ugo, Valter and Sol wind up in the new apartment together. Sparks fly and the chase ensues not really solving any of their problems.
Ugo finds solace in his conversations with the wise old Sol whose advice gets him through the upheaval of his home life with his charmingly cynical point of view. It’s Sol who guides Ugo at the end, his advice leading Ugo away from the chaos of home.
Love, Sex & Real Estate moves swiftly, thanks to John D. McNally’s direction. He skillfully manages the quick shifts between romantic liaisons, real estate discussions, Ugo’s youthful angst, and Valter’s artistic stumblings.
The writing, including an over-the-top version of a Feydeau farce, complete with slamming doors, tends toward cliché, but is saved by the performances of the eager cast of fine actors.
Vincent Gunn’s scenery is pretty basic, but does the job: some upholstered benches, a table and a framework indicating walls. Rita Mae Sylvester’s costumes are character appropriate from the Valter’s paint-stained pants to Allison’s chic dresses. Cameron Filepas’ lighting makes the tiny stage seem larger.
Love, Sex & Real Estate (through October 1, 2022)
American Renaissance Theater Co.
Chain Theatre Mainstage, 312 West 36th Street, 4th Floor, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit http://www.our.show/artc/88517
Running time: one hour and 45 minutes without an intermission