‘Love Letters’ is a Pulitzer Prize nominated play by American playwright, novelist and Latin teacher, A. R. ‘Pete’ Gurney (Albert Ramsdell Gurney Jr.) who died three years ago aged 86. Even though his grandfather was Mayor of Buffalo – near Niagara Falls – his plays were often ‘penetratingly witty studies’ of the upper class.
In 1968, Gurney’s first play only ran for just one performance due to a mocking press. Luckily, his fortunes soon changed and having written over fifty plays, six novels and two screen scripts, Gurney was awarded the prestigious ‘Lifetime Achievement Award’ at the 2016 Obie Awards .
‘Love Letters’ comprises two, 45-minutes Acts and will be staged for three performances only. Curtain goes up on this Harbour Theatre’s production at the Camelot Theatre (Mosman Park Memorial Hall), 16 Lochee Street, Mosman Park on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th July at 7.30 pm, with a Sunday matinée on the 12th July 2.00 pm.
With such a short season and restricted seating, please book soon (empty seats will be left between groups). BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL so contact 9255-3336 or TAZtix.com.au.
The scene: the period 1950 – 2000 (?)
The set: The stage is divided in two. One side is Melissa’s (Meredith Hunter) simple home, with a chaise-longue, a side table with a bowl of pink roses. The other half of the stage is the upper-class home of Andy (Jarrod Buttery) with an antique oak bookcase of leather-bound books and finest furniture. Stage managed by Jane Sherwood.
The sound and lighting are by Rob Tagliaferri. Great start to the play with Ketty Lester’s memorable 1962 hit, ‘Love Letter’.
The first Act shows two childhood friends, Melissa and Andy, exchanging letters and billet-doux. The second Act is about their adult lives.
The two performers write and read a lifetime’s letters. Based in separate houses throughout, there is no physical interaction (a COVID-19 special). Sounds boring? Not at all. The script is tightly written and superbly structured. It is hilarious, with glimpses of our inappropriate youth – yes, you will find yourself saying ‘that could have been me!’
The first Act is filled with eyebrow raising gems of inappropriateness and memories of life’s attitudes half a century ago.
Often a two-hander play can be tedious, but this play is vibrant, sensitive, hilarious and just glows. What a wonderful start to a new season of Perth productions after the lockdowns of the past few months. This could be Australia’s first post-virus production.
Director Jane Sherwood has selected two brilliant and well-admired actors to play the full gamut of emotions subtly. In less skilled hands this play could have fallen flat, but instead I think we have started the season with a possible award-winning production. A wonderful play delivered by two actors who nailed it.