Theater review: 'Letters' arrive first-class
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THEATER REVIEW

Theater review: 'Letters' arrive first-class

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When Heartland Theatre Company's artistic director Rhys Lovell introduced "Love Letters," which opened this past weekend, he asked the audience a question, "When was the last time you wrote a handwritten letter?"

Indeed. He charged one of the millennials in the front row with the assignment of penning a personal note which, in today's hyper-plugged-in/Facebook/"text me" world, seems like a tall order.

To many folks in the audience, however, a handwritten note might have pleasantly brought to mind a simpler time when the onslaught of cyber communication that we face today was the stuff of science fiction.

There is a stillness to "Love Letters" as it chronicles the relationship of Melissa Gardner and Andrew Ladd, from the second grade on to adulthood, through the letters that they wrote, and the formal invitations that they sent to each other.

The two actors sit at a table, reading from the script, facing out to the audience or looking down at the page. There is no movement or spectacle, just their words, which paint a palpable portrait of their complicated lives.

Melissa comes from money, and Andy is an honor student from a more humble background. Andy's father tells him that letter writing is a "way of presenting yourself in the best possible light to another person."

And so Andy and Melissa do with each other, from success at school, to failed marriages, political aspirations and the loss of loved ones.

Through the window of the letters, it is revealed how much they mean to each other, even though most of their lives are spent on opposite sides of the country.

Director Ron Emmons has the rare privilege of working with three separate pairs of accomplished local actors. "Love Letters" is often performed by different people during the same run of this show, and Heartland is following suit.

Lori Adams and Jonathan D. Green gave captivating and heartfelt performances in the first weekend of the run.

Devon and Rhys Lovell will be performing the second weekend, and Cyndee and Dean Brown will be performing the third weekend in this gentle and much beloved theater piece.

Weiss is a freelance writer who reviews plays for The Pantagraph.

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