Director: Denny Lawrence
Presented by Christine Harris & HIT Productions
Q Theatre, Queanbeyan, May 21 to 24, 2014
Review by Len Power 21 May 2014
‘Love Letters’, first performed in the USA in 1989, has already had an extraordinary life with just about every famous theatre performer you can imagine having a go at it. At last we had an opportunity to see it at the Q Theatre in Queanbeyan with Huw Higginson from TV’s ‘The Bill’ and his wife, Hannah Waterman, best known for her role in ‘Eastenders’.
Written by A.R. Gurney, the play centres on two fictional well-to-do Americans, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. Covering nearly 50 years, we witness their early hopes and dreams and share their disappointments, successes and failures through their correspondence with each other as they lead their separate lives.
Simply staged by director, Denny Lawrence, it’s the skill of the performers that makes this production a success. Both actors read their letters from separate lecterns separated by a window representing the type of grand-looking houses these people would live in. There is no other movement on stage. Huw Higginson is especially touching as a gentle man concerned to do the right thing by everyone while Hannah Waterman shines as a waspish but emotionally needy woman unhappily locked into a life that seems to have been mapped out for her since birth.
The static nature of this work could easily work against it but this production works extremely well with careful pacing, lots of light and shade in the delivery by the actors, overlapping dialogue and flashes of humour. The audience is drawn into the details of the lives of these people against a background of the manners and morals of these particular fifty years or so in American history.
The simple but effective set design is by Jacob Battista and the lighting plot complements the set and gives a good impression of time passing with various fades and colour changes.
The director, Denny Lawrence has done an excellent job with all aspects of this production. The ending of the play is very moving, even though you can see it coming. It was a play I had been curious about for a very long time and I was not disappointed.
Originally broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7’s ‘Dress Circle’ program with Bill Stephens Sunday 26 May 2014