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Theater Review: TV Couple Reunites for One Weekend of Love Letters at the Rep East

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- by Stephanie Taylor for LAist

Repertory East Playhouse revived a popular favorite last weekend, in a weekend-only production of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters. Love Letters chronicles the relationship from grade-school to late middle age between free-thinking artist socialite Melissa Gardner and her respectable, politically ambitious friend Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. Taking advantage of resources available by virtue of its L.A.-metro location, the production reunited Tony Dow and Janice Kent who played the title husband/wife duo on The New Leave it to Beaver in the 80s. The story is told entirely through the correspondence the two have kept throughout the course of their lifetime.

Though the play has an achingly slow start (how interesting can elementary correspondence be?), it builds slowly to reveal the fickleness of desire yet the steadfastness of genuine friendship and affection. The plot points are a bit tired--the solid, dependable gentleman pursues the rebellious free spirit unsuccessfully, until he winds up the U.S. Senate while she dries out in rehab--alone--and the roles reverse regarding pursuer and pursued. But there's a reason the play has seen so many productions. Despite its dips into predictability, it manages to capture a full-range of human emotion and experience solely through these letters, difficult work indeed.