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Review: 'Love Letters'   

Director: 'Roy Marsden' Writen By: 'A.R. Gurney'
-  Starring: 'Martin Shaw, Jenny Seagrove'

-  Genre: 'Romance' -  Release Date: '5.12.20.'

Our Rating:
This is the first show of any sort that I've been to since seeing Rachel Stamp on Valentines day which is the longest, I can ever remember going between shows since I started going out properly in 1984, but that has been the nature of this pandemic blighted year.

As the Theatre Royal Haymarket's current show Only Fools And Horses isn't suitable for a socially distanced performance instead they have re-opened with the first new West end opening since the Pandemic hit with a revival of A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, his 1988 play that was nominated for a Pulitzer prize and is directed by Roy Marsden.

Over the years the play has normally been performed by actors who are either couples in real life or are well know screen couples. In the case of this performance Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove are known for the tempestuous relationship they have in Judge John Deed.

We chose to book front row seats for this play so that the Covid restricted audience wouldn't get in the way of our enjoyment and after having our temperatures taken and making sure to keep our masks on we took or seats just below the stage.

As suggested by the title the play takes the form of the two actors sitting at separate but identical desks reading 40 plus years of Love Letters between Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III who met at a young age in the 1940's and then due to being sent to different schools start writing to each other. The play is in chronological order and at times is dripping with sarcasm at how their parents have treated them, or how Andrew kept being sent to boys only schools, colleges and then eventually to becoming a republican senator, While Melissa has a far more dissolute life as an artist and Photographer.

They have periods where they aren't talking to each other, discuss their various love affairs and marriages and occasional dalliances with each other in the rare moments when they are actually together in real life rather than mails apart. Some of the letters are long rambling tales and others short curt replies.

At first it was strange to hear both actors speaking with American accents, but as we got further into the play it no longer mattered as they had inhabited this pair of Wasps totally and all I could do was wonder at what turns their lives would take next.

This play is well worth catching if you can get to the West end before the run finishes in February for a very entertaining play.

  author: simonovitch

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