Love Among the Ruins Review – Love on Trial

JoBeth Williams and Peter Strauss in LOVE AMONG THE RUINS - Photo by Jim Cox
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A delightful romantic comedy penned by James G. Hirsch and Robert A. Papazian from a 1975 film script by James Costigan, LOVE AMONG THE RUINS makes a limited 2023 run in Los Angeles at El Portal Theatre. This classic courtroom comedy is adapted from the Peabody and multi-Emmy Award-winning ABC Theatre Presentation which starred Katharine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. An earlier version of LOVE AMONG THE RUINS, written by James G. Hirsch and Robert A. Papazian from the Costigan film script, was presented at the Laguna Playhouse in October 2022.

Peter Strauss and JoBeth Williams – Photo by Jim Cox

This newly invented version tells the tale of Jessica Medlicott (JoBeth Williams), once a great actress who is now an elegant wealthy widow, and her current “problem:” she is accused of “breach of promise” by a handsome young Naval officer who claims that she promised to marry him during a whirlwind May/December affair. Due to the 1929 depression, Jessica finds herself, like so many others, on the brink of financial ruin – and she cannot afford to lose this case. Reluctantly, she must turn to her only hope, the greatest barrister at the Old Bailey – and her former lover -, Sir Arthur Granville Jones (Peter Strauss). But soon, the proverbial oil and water begin to boil as the two come together for the trial of the century.

Martin Kildare, JoBeth Williams, and Peter Strauss – Photo by Jim Cox

Skillfully helmed by Michael Arabian, LOVE AMONG THE RUINS remembers its roots – an old fashioned love story with chuckles and legal chills thrown in. Accomplished actors Williams and Strauss really sink their teeth into this tale of a forgotten love – or is it? From a hesitant first act, they bloom in Act II as the two lovers thrown together after so many years. Special kudos to Stephen Gifford’s scenic design. From a delicious art deco office to an imposing courtroom, Gifford’s environment is quietly elegant. Kudos as well to Kate Bergh for the stunning costumes which resurrect 1934 in all its glory. In fact, the entire production team does a bang-up job of morphing a film into a stage production.

Cast of LOVE AMONG THE RUINS – Photo by Jim Cox

LOVE AMONG THE RUINS is a charming stage adaptation of a well-received television production from 1975. It is actually a time warp within another time warp, with the play’s action happening in 1934. This is a gentle narrative about the lingering effects of true love – with the occasional clever and witty remark thrown in. Congratulations to playwrights Hirsch and Papazian for having the idea and the creative chops to bring it to fruition. For all you love story fans, this is what you’ve been waiting for. And for any history of film/theater buffs out there, you’ll find LOVE AMONG THE RUINS right up our alley. This is a warm, cozy tale which will have you smiling all the way home.

LOVE AMONG THE RUINS runs through November 5, 2023, with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., on Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., on Fridays at 8 p.m., on Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and on Sundays at 1:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. El Portal Theatre is located at 5969 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601. For information and reservations, call 818-508-4200 or go online.

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