The longing of letters

Love Letters (Christine Harris and HIT Productions)

Gardens Theatre

June 24 – 25

“Love Letters” is the sweet, funny, heart-warming story of two people, who share a lifetime of experiences through the medium of handwritten letters. Its premise is simple: smart mouthed, sassy, spoiled Melissa Gardner and her loyal faux-beau Andy Ladd have been writing letters to each other since they were young. What follows is a beautiful, witty and very human story of two people who will never love anyone the way they love each other, as the audience is taken on their complicated, almost 50 year relationship at the heart of each other’s’ largely separate lives.

The most modest of staging suits the show’s premise; the narrative is delivered by the two characters standing at separate lecterns, from which they read their letters. And although there is no other movement on stage, (they don’t step out from the lecterns and rarely even look at each other), it works, proving that simplicity is sometimes the ultimate sophistication.

Act One focuses on the pair’s youthful postcard and thankyou note correspondence, as they share stories of summer camps and poison ivy, boarding school tales of roommates, rowing and dances and the burgeoning sexuality of their College years. Act Two sees the pair of now ‘two uptight old wasps’ sharing the trials and tribulations of their adulthood of travel, loss, love, career, family, vices and regrets. And still their connection remains, a resilient bond that seems to exist more in letters than in reality. In the end, they both realise the importance of their letters to each other and what the correspondence has meant in their lives. As a stuffy, reserved lawyer/politician and a free-spirited, impulsive but needy artist, Andy and Melissa are an odd couple, however, through their flaws, they are hugely endearing in their individual humanity and enduring affection towards each other.

Even without physical movement, real life partners Huw Higginson (“The Bill”) and Hannah Waterman (“Eastenders”), convey the emotion of their story in a way that forges an immediate connection with the audience, especially in the straight-from-the-heart monologues that pepper the production. Waterman is beguiling in her girlish joy, while Higginson is assured in his adult profundity. And the chemistry between the two is charming.

“Love Letters” is not only a celebration of the art of writing, but an entertaining love story about a bittersweet romance. Indeed, it will leave you not only relishing the power of the written word, but also a little tearful in longing to have a Melissa or Andy in your life.


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