Monday, August 13, 2012

Sentimental Journey

Love Letters at Lakewood Playhouse

reviewed by
Michael Dresdner

Because each performance of Love Letters has a different cast, Alec Clayton and I decided to go on three different days and then share our reviews on one another's theatre blogs. Here’s my take; if you haven’t read it yet, Alec’s is below.
Micheal O'Hara and Sharry O'Hare

If you have read Alec’s review you know the basics. Yes, it is a “play” consisting of two people sitting side by side, reading 50 years worth of letters to one another recounting lives that are largely out of sync. And yes, it is often done, as it is at Lakewood, with revolving casts.

If you are lucky enough to see it with the right actors, (and I was,) you understand immediately why; it is hard to imagine a cast being able to make it through the powerful and heart-rending Act II more than once in a year, much less several times a week.

At its core, Love Letters is a long and winding road; a lifetime journey of two people who meet at age seven, and through letters and a few rare personal contacts, follow each others lives as they unfold in very different directions. Yet through it all, they remain bound by a thin, unbreakably strong, spider-silk strand of affection. 

Act one is laugh-out-loud funny; from the giddy silliness of two seven-year-olds passing notes through the awkward and exaggerated tweens and teens, and on into the confusing absurdity of early adulthood. The actors imperceptibly age, through voice and mannerisms, as they grow into their lives.

Act two takes us through their successes, challenges, and for one, desultory destruction, and by its end, leaves us emotionally drained and decidedly tear stained.
Granted, with different casts, each performance will be different, and some may be stronger, better, or differently skewed. I saw two, and they were, admittedly, much different. Clearly, there’s no way to review all nine, but I will say this about one pair.

I’m one of those people who abhor frivolous standing ovations, but Sunday’s performance, a complete tour de force by the outstanding team of Micheal O’Hara and Sharry O’Hare, was one of those rare times it was truly earned. It made me glad to be a reviewer, proud to know the actors, and grateful to have experienced those two hours of my life.

In short, done well, this is powerful theatre, the true measure of what great theatre can be, a journey that will make you laugh, and will make you cry.

Alec is right. Go see it. It’s an experience worth having.

Still to come, performances by:

Friday, Aug. 17 - Stephanie and Jarod Nace
Saturday, Aug. 18 - Terri and Robert Puett
Sunday, Aug.19 - Aya and Randy Clark
Friday, Aug. 24 – Samantha Camp and Bruce Story
Saturday, Aug. 25 – Rachel and Alan Wilkie
Sunday, Aug. 26 – Bethany Bevier and Niclas R. Olson

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