“The Love List” at the Reuben Cordova Theatre in Beverly Hills Theatre Review – A Compelling Comedy

I was still chuckling when I returned home from “The Love List,” and found myself wondering, if called upon to compile my own list, which most desirable ten qualities I would include. Norm Foster’s play, “The Love List,” while being side-splittingly funny is also rather thought provoking.

Leon, a published novelist who, though married, is also a philanderer and womanizer, takes Bill, his lonely, nerdy, statistician friend of many years who is “in a rut,” out to dinner for his fiftieth birthday. He has purchased a gift from a matchmaking Gypsy woman—a Love List for Bill to complete, cataloguing his orderly choice of the ten most desirable qualities in a woman.

 

 

Bill, divorced for several years, at first resists the whole concept, but Leon is persuasive and Bill eventually agrees to complete the list. His idea of an ideal woman is at extreme odds with Leon’s, but they eventually reach a compromise of sorts. The order of choice is shuffled around until Leon’s raunchy first choice is moved to fourth place. Bill prefers trust and other qualities over Leon’s suggestions that include “big boobs,” and accuses Bill of being shallow. The list finally completed, Leon leaves, and Bill, due to catch a flight in the morning, falls asleep at his desk.

 

 

He is awakened by a knock at the door, and in breezes Justine, a gorgeous, mysterious, loving, and sexy stranger who seems to know everything about Bill’s life. She soon manifests all the attributes on his Love List. Leon, accused by Bill of setting him up, vehemently denies any knowledge of Justine’s origin. She seems too good to be true, eagerly compliant—fulfilling all Bill’s needs and desires. Who is she, and where did she come from? Bill, initially delighted with his good luck, soon realizes Justine isn’t all he expected and has a mind of her own!

 

 

Leon insists no one is perfect and the Love List should include some imperfection. Bill disagrees, and Leon tells him, “You fall in love by seeing an imperfect person perfectly!” Any alterations of the Love List result in immediate changes in Justine. As the story unfolds in one racy, rollicking scene after another, the actors never miss a beat, demonstrating their expertise over and over again. Jennifer Laks is enchanting and perfect as Justine.

 

 

Leon claims that as a writer he is entitled to experience women firsthand in order to write knowledgeably about them, but his philandering has finally led to the downfall of his marriage. He manifests some jealousy over Bill and Justine’s blatantly sexy relationship. Some heated exchanges and action ensue, and the story takes some hilariously funny and unexpected twists and turns.

This show, while frequently having the audience shrieking with laughter, is often interspersed with thought provoking gems of wisdom about friendship, love, sex, and human values. One elderly lady sitting at my side wiped away tears of laughter and said, “This is the funniest show I’ve ever seen!” Judging by the frequent laughter of the mixed-aged audience, I suspect many echoed her sentiments!

Kudos to playwright Norm Foster, producer David Hunt Stafford, and Director Howard Storm for presenting this superbly-timed comedy, and to the creative team responsible for the terrific stage setting and costuming, and to the cast for delivering two hours of sheer pleasure with their slick performances.

 

What: "The Love List." A comedy. Debuted in Canada in 2003.

Starring: John Combs as Bill, Jennifer Laks as Justine, and Martin Thompson as Leon.

Creative team: Written by Norm Foster. Directed by Howard Storm. Produced by David Hunt Stafford for Theatre 40. Produced by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc.

Canadian Playwright Norm Foster’s works have proven very popular with Theatre 40 audiences, including “Opening Night” and ”The Long Weekend.” Thirty-nine of Mr. Foster’s plays have been published.

Howard Storm directs. An A-List comedian in an earlier career, he became one of television's busiest comedy directors, helming numerous episodes of classic series including “Valerie,” “Mork and Mindy,” “Gimme a Break!,” “Taxi,”  “Too Close for Comfort,” and more. Also an actor, Howard appeared at Theatre 40 in “Jimmy and Sam” and “The Last Romance.”

Assistant Director: Melanie McQueen. Set design: Jeff G. Rack. Costume design: Michele Young. Lighting design: Ric Zimmerman. Sound design: Bill Froggatt. Stage Manager: Don Salosan.

Photos by:  Ed Krieger

WHEN SHOWING:

Thursday at 8 p.m. on May 29, June 12, June 19, 2014.
Gala Opening Weekend performance on May 30 is by invitation.
Fridays at 8 p.m. on June 13 and June 20.
Saturdays at 2 p.m. on May 31 and June 14.

Saturdays 8 p.m. on June 7 and June 14.

Sunday at 2 p.m. on June 8.

Sundays at 7 p.m. on June 1 and June 8.
Monday at 8 p.m. on June 2.
Tuesday at 8 p.m. on June 3.
Wednesday at 8 p.m. on June 4 and June 18.

NOTE: This show runs in repertory with “Educating Rita,” the subject of a separate release.

RESERVATIONS: (310) 364-0535.

TICKET PRICES: $24 weeknights, $26 on Saturdays and Sundays.

ONLINE TICKETING: www.theatre40.orgNote:

SHOWING AT:

Theatre 40 in the Reuben Cordova Theatre

241 S. Moreno Drive, Beverly Hills CA 90212.

The venue is located on the campus of Beverly Hills High School. Theatre 40 is a professional company.

Theatre 40 is a charming intimate theatre that comfortably seats around 100 peopl

Ample free parking beneath theatre.

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