[NoHo Arts District, CA] – A NoHo Arts theatre review of “Love Among The Ruins” starring Jobeth Williams and Peter Strauss, written by James G. Hirsch and Robert A. Papazian, directed by Michael Arabian from a script by James Costigan, playing at El Portal Theatre through November 5.
“Love Among The Ruins” was first written as a Peabody and Emmy Award-winning screenplay and produced by ABC as a televised theatre production with Katharine Hepburn and Sir Laurence Olivier. It’s presented as a classic courtroom romance, but as the story unfolds it becomes clear that there is much more to these two fascinating characters than meets the eye.
Long lost love is at the core of the story and it poses the question that once a heart is given fully, can anyone else compare, no matter how long you are apart or how many other possibilities present themselves? Sometimes ‘the one’ really is the only one.
How these two souls ended up in the same place at the same time once again is all part of the mystery of course, and one quite brilliantly written by these incredibly gifted and hugely successful television writers and producers and show runners. Hirsch being a producer or writer of more than 40 television movies, series and miniseries, and along with his partner Papazian, has now produced dozens more and many major motion pictures. They are now principal owners of the iconic Sunset-Gower Studios.
Their production of “Love Among The Ruins” is truly flawless. Gorgeous sets artfully fill the beautiful main stage at El Portal Theatre.
The setting is London in the 40s, the scenes played out in the typically English and leather-bound office of the infamous older barrister Sir Arthur Granville Jones. He is hired by Jessica Medlicott, an actress slightly passed her prime, but still ravishing and in need of his help as she is being sued for breach of contract by a jilted erstwhile boyfriend, much younger, after what’s left of her money. An inheritance from her late husband which doesn’t afford her close to the life she once had. Hence her urgent need to win and why we are all in this story together.
Everyone is English…and so am I. So I was prepared for the worst, accent wise. I was happily wrong! Everyone was pretty perfect actually, including the stars of this wonderful show, Jobeth Williams and Peter Strauss. Stars in their own right and both absolutely riveting as these long-lost lovers.
Ms Williams flirts and flits with a stunningly perceptive flair. Never too much nor too little. Mr Strauss is utter perfection in his stuttering longing and ingenious lawyerly conniving.
It’s an artful and whimsical tale. Funny, heartfelt, charming and refreshingly unencumbered by subplots and nasty little twists and turns. It’s a love story, and a deep one at that. Nothing obvious or contrived. Just clever and truthful and full of excellent moments of poignant memories and missed opportunities.
“Love Among The Ruins” is a wonderful wonderful play, giving two incredible actors a brilliant vehicle to shine on stage, and how lovely to see them there instead of separated from us by screens and glass.
Their supporting cast is equally excellent, richly drawn characters beautifully performed by a truly fine group of actors. They lifted the play and gave Ms Williams and Mr Strauss ample room to work their magic with this fabulous material.
I truly cannot recommend “Love Among the Ruins” enough. How lucky we are in Noho for such a fine theatre as El Portal. And luckier still for such a brilliant and beautifully produced play as this. Bravo!!!
“Love Among The Ruins” runs until November 5th at the excellent El Portal Theatre. Miss it at your peril!!
El Portal Theatre
5269 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601
The cast of Love “Among the Ruins” also features (in alphabetical order): Tony Abatemarco as “Judge Philip Tandy,” Gigi Bermingham as “Hermione Davis,” Nima Dabestani as “Herbert/Bailiff,” C.J. Blaine Eldred as “Alfred Pratt,” Martin Kildare as “Sir George Druise,” Amir Talai as “John Francis Divine,” and Wendy Worthington as “Fanny Pratt.”
The Design Team members for Love Among the Ruins are Scenic Design by Stephen Gifford; Costume Design by Kate Bergh; Lighting Design by Jared A. Sayeg; Projection Design by Brian Gale; Property Design by Kevin Williams; Sound Design by Bruce Yauger; Dialect Coach Joel Goldes; Casting by Michael Donovan CSA, Mary Jo Slater CSA, Richie Ferris CSA; Production Manager Jason Davis; General Manager Matthew Herrmann; Production Stage Manager Phil Gold; and Stage Manager Raven Chatt.