Theater Review: Revising A.R. Gurney's Love Letters Pays Off in Poignancy | Arts
Arts
INDY Week's arts blog

Archives | RSS | Follow on

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Theater Review: Revising A.R. Gurney's Love Letters Pays Off in Poignancy

Posted by on Thu, Feb 18, 2016 at 1:31 PM

click to enlarge Love Letters - PHOTO BY RON YORGASON/COURTESY OF BARE THEATRE
  • photo by Ron Yorgason/courtesy of Bare Theatre
  • Love Letters
Love Letters
★★★ ½
Bare Theatre @ Sonorous Road Productions, Raleigh
Through Feb. 28


Love Letters
, A.R. Gurney’s unconventional epistolary drama from 1989, usually features two actors seated side by side on an otherwise empty stage, traversing the lifelong friendship of central characters Melissa and Andy through five decades of their correspondence. As the text proceeds from the illicit classroom notes and birthday cards of childhood to the deeper disclosures of high school, college, and adulthood, the challenge to an actor’s range is obvious.

But in this Bare Theatre production of Love Letters, director Rebecca Blum declined that test in the interest of diversifying the cast. Instead, with the playwright’s permission, she selected three pairs of performers—adorable (but not always audible) child actors Audrey Jones and Damien Tomczyk, adult actors Claire Koenig and Justin Brent Johnson, and Amanda Scherle and Simon Kaplan—to play the two characters in various stages of their lives. During transitions, the older versions of the characters seem to look in and back on their younger selves—adolescents who, at times, seem unnerved by their own futures.

There is more than a note of poignancy as these alienated children of privilege send signals to each other during lengthening periods of absence. “Why do they keep pushing us together and pulling us apart?” wonders Koenig’s brash, impatient teenage Melissa, as her life trajectory steadily veers off from Andy’s. It continues to do so, first through same-sex schools and summer camps and then through diverging career paths and ambitions.

Johnson conveys the pomposity and sudden vulnerability of Andy through prep school, college, and his service in the Navy. Scherle and Kaplan effectively excavate the aches and carefully concealed regrets of aging, far too distant friends. Gurney’s conclusion, and Blum’s cast, left some audience members stunned as they struggled to compose themselves at the end of Sunday’s matinee. It’s an appropriate benediction when a show inspires you to rush home through the chilled, fading light, start a good fire, pour a warm drink, and pick up a pen or a phone.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Arts



Twitter Activity

Comments

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Here's a shout-out to the dancers and musicians of The Bipeds who are not mentioned by name in this article. …

by The Bipeds on Dance Review: The Many Moving Parts of The Bipeds' 54 Strange Words Don't Always Perfectly Mesh. But When They Do, It's Spectacular. (Arts)

You probably want to refrain from using ableist language.

by vidvis on ADF Review: Pilobolus's Crowd-Pleasing Dance Is Apolitical. Unfortunately, the World It Inhabits Is Not. (Arts)

I love stories like this.

by JoeJoey on A Villain Burglarized All Three Ultimate Comics Stores Last Night (Arts)

Mr. Woods must have seen a very different production than the one I saw or perhaps he was having an …

by Amy Ginsburg on Theater Review: Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's Songs Can't Quite Shine Through a Patchy Production of Spring Awakening (Arts)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation