It’s been 44 years since the movie Love Story featured Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw, and now we have those two iconic stars back again, right here in Ft. Lauderdale.
This time it is in the play Love Letters. The key word is love, and it was evident from the first moment they walked on stage together that this was a love fest. The large audience at the Broward Center did not merely admire these two veteran actors. It was love.
They did not disappoint with the sparkling script by playwright A. R. Gurney that premiered in 1988. It has seen performances by some of the greatest names on stage & screen, including Charlton Heston and Elizabeth Taylor, but with the backdrop of the movie Love Story on everyone’s mind, this performance was special.
The play does include some classic lines about the very act of letter writing. “I feel most alive when I’m in some corner writing things down. I love writing letters. I’m writing you - you most of all. It’s a present of myself to you. It’s not a phone call which is dead as soon as it’s over.”
This is the character Andrew writing to Melissa. She would never write that, because she hates writing letters. Why then, did she write letters to Andrew for half a century? Love, of course.
In the play, O’Neal and MacGraw never exchange more than a sidelong glance, except at the very end when she looks at him. With little movement and a bare set (just a table and two chairs), it can only be the power of acting that can keep an audience riveted for an hour 45 minutes. Even though O’Neal appeared to trip up on a couple of lines, MacGraw was fantastic and their verbal interplay was summed up by one audience member I talked to as “phenomenal.”
This is an intimate play, a very theatrical piece, and certainly would play best in a smaller theatre. A theatre manager told me after the play he would not have wanted to be in the upper balcony for this one.
This great arc of two lives, one destined for great things, and the other destined for misery, is a very special gift to anyone who sees it. Love Letters truly is a love story.
Love Letters is being performed at the Broward Centre through July 26, 2015