LOVE, MIKE is a comedy with 2 men, 2 women in a living-room setting. Mike Liberatore is a circus acrobat temporarily out of commission with a broken arm and leg caused by running into Love Richard's car with his motorcycle.  A charismatic charmer with Italian good looks and a smooth tongue, he quickly falls in love with Love, a very pretty but reserved secretary separated from her husband.  She makes his heart sing, his mind click, and his thermometer rise to the passionate level. A story in which two people from different worlds strive to form a lasting relationship while struggling against the baggage of their past, this is an upbeat play about marriage, family, and being true to oneself. It was produced by the Wichita Summer Theatre.

A Romantic Comedy in Two Acts

CHARACTERS:

LOVE RICHARDS She is a 25-year-old secretary, separated from her salesman husband Larry. The opposite of her name, she has never
known real love until she meets Mike Liberatore.

MIKE LIBERATORE He is a 27-year-old circus acrobat with a broken arm and a broken leg, injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident. He is
small, athletic, warm and out-going man with great charm and vitality from an Italian Catholic background.

LARRY RICHARDS He is a 29-year-old salesman. He dresses well, drinks too much, and is full of self-pity and angry because his wife has left him. As the play progresses, he gains control of himself and changes.

MRS. LIBERATORE She is Mike's mother, an Italian woman in her mid-fifties. She runs a deli. She can be pushy, opinionated, and bossy. Yet she has a warmth and understanding that reveals itself in a gentler side at times.

SETTING
The action takes place in Love Richard's apartment, the Liberatore Deli, Sampson's Bar and Grill, and in the mind. Center stage is the living-room/dining area of Love's apartment. There is a television set, an old arm chair, an end table with a lamp. Up right is the front door. Up center is a door leading to a bedroom and bathroom. Up left is the door to the kitchen. Prominently placed is a sofa and coffee table. Left is a dining table and two chairs. The atmosphere is warm and comfortable.

At the far right is a deli counter suggesting the Liberatore Deli, and far left is a phone booth and tiny round table with two chairs suggesting Sampson's Bar and Grill. These are fairly neutral areas often used for the entrance of the "imaginary" characters. Once established as "imaginary," these characters may move about freely and walk right into the apartment.

TIME
The present. The action takes place at intervals over a year or so.

ACT I

Scene 1: A Saturday night.
Scene 2: Early evening, the following Saturday.
Scene 3: The following morning.

ACT II

Scene 1: A Saturday afternoon, six months later.
Scene 2: Evening, a few weeks later.
Scene 3: Late at night, several months later.
Scene 4: Afternoon, a week later.
Scene 5: A short time later.


HISTORY

I first wrote this play as a one-act while I was staying at New Dramatists on 44th Street in February, 1988. I had spent the previous year working on a complex historical drama about Anna Cora Mowatt, and I wanted to focus on something simpler.

In January early Febraury, 1988, I worked with the Portland Stage Company who did a staged reading of my play, "Of the Best Family." They were doing primarily small cast plays, so I felt that a play with a very small cast would be easier to get produced.

The idea for having Mike with a broken arm and leg came from my mother who had hit a car while riding her motorcycle and ended up with the same injuries. A year after I wrote the first draft Billy Idol also broke his arm and leg in a motorcycle accident.

The idea for Love came from my own secretary, Sandy Wemmerus, who had worked as a volunteer at a center for abused women.

Upon returning to Alaska, I expanded the one-act into a full-length play. I got a couple of my student actors together, Tracy Hinkson and Rose Riordan, to read the play aloud. With feedback from them, I re-wrote the play. At this point, the first and last scenes took place in a bar downstairs below Love's apartment.

I was generally pleased with the first act of the play, but I knew the second act didn't work. I really didn't touch the play from about June,1988, to February, 1990. Then I decided to completely re-write the show, adding two new characters: Mike's mother and Love's husband, and I decided to include "imaginary or fantasy" sequences" in which these characters appeared in the Mike and Love's minds.

After completing the re-write in about three weeks, I again got some student actors together to read the script: Lori Ostrosky, Peter Ruocco, Jeff Seastone, and Kathryn Ostrosky. After the reading and discussion, I re-worked a number of scenes to further develop the character of Love. I particularly worked on the first scene where Love talks about her husband, the scene in act two with Larry, and the last scene.

In 1990 I sent the script to the Shenandoah Valley Playwrights Retreat. It was a finalist in the Alumni Fellowship competition.

This year after getting feedback from Kathryn and David Blatt, I again re-wrote the first scene and several others. As soon as the play was cast, the cast and I got together three times and read through the play and worked out a variety of line changes. I expect we will continue with a few small minor changes until about a week before we open, but basically the play will remain the same. I don't expect any different scenes or changes in structure at this point. Primarily what we need to work out in rehearsal is the movement and the bits of business that are necessary with any production.


SYNOPSIS
Mike Liberatore is a circus acrobat temporarily out of commission with a broken arm and leg caused by running into Love Richard's car with his motorcycle. A charismatic charmer with Italian good looks and a smooth tongue, he quickly falls in love with Love, a very pretty but reserved secretary separated from her husband. She makes his heart sing, his mind click, and his thermometer rise to the passionate level.

But what a scene the morning after consummating their passion when they are discovered not only by her husband but also by his very Catholic mother!

Unfortunately, although separated from her husband, Love is still very much married to Larry, and he keeps popping up not only in reality, but also in her mind. (One of the delightful features of the play are the numerous scenes in which imagined characters--unhampered by reality--offer ironic commentary about what is going on.) Caught between duty and desire, Love tries to keep Mike at arm's length but he is too
enchanting. He makes her feel beautiful and wanted and loved. He cooks her romantic dinners. He does wild and crazy things like riding a motorcycle into her living room. He makes her feel all the passion and excitement that her life with Larry lacked.

What is a woman with strong values and a sense of commitment who takes her marriage vows seriously to do? She feels guilty. She feels an obligation to give her marriage another chance. And what about Mike? Working in his mother's deli leaves him unfulfilled. Once his injuries are healed, he longs for the excitement and glamour of the circus.

Love returns to her husband and Mike returns to the circus, but the results are anything but satisfying, and the contrasting images of the passionate Mike, make Love all the more unhappy. In one last desperate attempt to get her husband's attention, she does a strip tease but it doesn't work. She and Larry split forever.

Meanwhile, Mike has also realized that the glamour and thrills of the circus are empty. He longs for the relationship with Love and the promise of a family, but he is too proud to call Love, thinking she's back with her husband. Mrs. Liberatore, Mike's fiesty mother, takes the bull by the horns and comes to see Love to find out where her heart is. She facilitates the reconciliation.

In the end Mike and Love are happily re-united. Both are a little wiser, a little stronger, and are now ready to meet each other on the same level. He's just as zany but willing to settle down, and she's ready to be a little zany herself.

A story in which two people from different worlds strive to form a lasting relationship while struggling against the baggage of their past, this is an upbeat play destined to leave the audience with a warm glow and positive feelings about marriage, family, and being true to oneself.