“Letter writing is a dying art.”
Mail carriers kept the two connected throughout life; a strange thought for someone growing up in this era where text messages and emails reign in keeping in touch, or sending your love.
The postmen brought letters brimming with love. The love affair commenced in second grade after Andy Ladd RSVPed stating he would come to Melissa Gardner’s birthday party and lasted throughout their whole lives in A.R. Gurney’s Pulitzer Prize winning play Love Letters. Linda Pellegrino played Melissa and Jon Summers was Andy in Lancaster Opera Houses’ production, which played Feb. 13 and 14, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Over a span of 50 years, Melissa and Andy write letters to each other. They write in times of joy, sorrow, just to catch up, to invite, share their dreams and simply stay connected to one another even though distance and different lifestyles keep them apart.
On stage, the two characters read letters to one another, but never speak to each other during the play. Andy sits at a desk surrounded my memorabilia of his life, while Melissa is in her living room with things that tell of who she is and who she wants to become and what haunts her from her past.
Although the two are always separated on stage, they keep the other in their hearts throughout their lives.
Since there are two scenes on stage at the same time it serves as a juxtaposition of the characters as well. Melissa hates writing, is indifferent, a rebel, and feisty, progressing throughout the play. Her attributes also include being a free-spirit, a fly by the seat of your pants kind of gal, an adventurer, daring, depressed and wandering around life.
The two could not be more polar opposites.
Andy finds his voice in writing. He is an old soul, stuffy, organized, studious, straight laced, emulating the perfect life. Andy has also loved Melissa his whole life, but Melissa always wavered in her feelings for Andy.
In Love Letters, acting is kept to a minimal as the words are meant to tell the story more so than the actions as both Summers and Pelligrino read letters back and forth.
Their voice inflection set the tones of the letters and moods. Pelligrino served perfectly as the saucy rebel without a cause. Throughout her performance she added her own actions, making Melissa her own character.
Summers was stuffy and stiff and at times awkward, but in the perfect way that he was making his character out to be.
Both characters seemed natural for Summers and Pelligrino to play, as though the parts were exclusively written for them even though Love Letters was written in 1989.
Love Letters is like most stories about love. The two characters fall in and out of it with each other and different people and eventually realize that maybe things just can’t work out or aren’t meant to be. Maybe it was best all along for them to just remain friends and continue to write each other Love Letters to keep the hope alive and keep the romance going. At least Melissa and Andy could count on someone to be at the other side of the stamp for them.
Love Letters was the perfect play to see during Valentine’s Day weekend.
There is something extremely romantic about anticipating a letter and writing to its recipient. It’s almost the best kind of love affair.
Next week Nicole will be reviewing Agatha Christie's "The Mouse Trap"
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