Loose Ends In L.A.

REVIEW by Willard Manus

LOS ANGELES -- Michael Weller's 1979 bittersweet love story, LOOSE ENDS, has been given a superior production by the Ruskin Group Theatre Co., one of L.A.'s newer theatre groups, which works out of a refurbished hanger at Santa Monica Airport. First produced in New York starring Kevin Kline and Roxanne Hart, LOOSE ENDS deals with the relationship between Paul (Robert Gantzos) and Susan (Kristina Lear). Spanning a nine-year period, the relationship has so many ups and downs that it resembles a stock-market chart. Paul and Susan are a post-60s couple, part-hippie, part-yuppie, trying to cling to their youthful ideals even as they are dragged by life into the arms of the establishment. The two of them love each other but always in a slightly distanced and conflicted way, as if unbridled passion were distasteful to them. The issue of whether to have a child or not becomes the turning point of the play. More than infidelity and career demands it tests --and ultimately shatters--the bonds that have held them together. Gantzos and Lear take the audience through the many changes experienced by this sympathetic but embattled modern couple, handling each and every challenge with consummate acting skill. A large cast of friends and relatives provides the human backdrop--and some much-needed humor-- to Weller's episodic but compelling play about the difficulties of love in our time: Telgen Fraker, April Beyer, Nicolle Roselle, Audrey Frantz, Mikey Myers, Betsy Douds, Jonathan Parker, Patrick Kannehan, Michael Friedman and Angelo Loukas. John Ruskin directed with a skilful, sensitive hand.

Ruskin Group Theatre, 3000 Airport Drive, Santa Monica. Call (310) 397-3244.