What makes Love Letters especially hard to write about in a ‘zine like Aisle Say is that no sooner do you publish your assessment of what’s onstage than, in a fundamental way, it changes soon after. Love Letters, you see, is and always was a readin’ play; the kind of thing where you get two actors, man and a woman, helps if they’re middle aged or older, sit ‘em down at a table in front of the audience, and have them read their parts aloud. And A.R. Gurney’s play, in its first Broadway revival at the Brooks Atkinson, is pretty much exactly as it was in 1989 off-Broadway at the Promenade: the two actors are stars and they periodically change. The difference here is, the play is being performed eight times a week, not two (at the Promenade, Love Letters was the “off nights” attraction), and each pair of stars are in it for a little longer (at the Promenade they changed on a weekly basis).
The play is about a lifelong friendship that is almost entirely an unrequited love affair and almost entirely conducted via correspondence; the correspondence and excerpts thereof being all we hear of it. With actors who are smart at this kind of thing and a director on point to provide what little guidance may be needed for pacing and making sure key points land with sufficient impact (in this case, Gregory Mosher), it can be very affecting; the kind of evening that makes you marvel at how “nothing” can fill a theatre as substantially as spectacle. At times even more substantially.
So—with the understanding that Love Letters is a no-frills readin’ play, you’ll probably have a swell time no matter who you see; so check the show’s website for the available schedule and select the couple that will give you the best thrill for your celebrity buck. I saw Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy. She was stellar and now she’s gone. He was swell and he’s still hanging in for a bit, his current costar (as of this 10/11/14 writing) Carol Burnett. Others of that stature to follow soon.
What’s not to like, er, love? And what more to say?
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