I first encountered Aspects of Love as a musical at the Broadhurst, and the experience left me with such unusual questions that I found myself on the trail of an enigma, like the hero of a detective story. The musical, adapted from a 1955 novella by a minor Bloomsburyite, tracks five people in France from 1947 to 1964: a French actress, an elderly English painter, his soldier nephew, an Italian sculptress, and, in the last years, the adolescent daughter of the painter and the actress. These characters engage in a bewildering merry-go-round of affairs and near-affairs, clumsily and jerkily presented. Narrative coherence seems less important, however, on stage than the unremitting attempts to establish that we are in a sophisticated, “artistic” ambience. Dialogue worthy (or perhaps unworthy) of Judith Krantz bombards us: “That’s my only genuine Matisse” . . . “She’s off to make a madcap movie with...


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