There once was a time when people communicated by sending hand written letters to one another, a time when good penmanship was emphasized in school and practiced by people who needed to conduct business, send thank you notes, stay in touch with far-away family, and to write very personal letters, spilling their emotions onto the page.
In LOVE LETTERS, playwright A. R. Gurney tells the story of a man and a woman who have written letters to one another over a period of 50 years from the time they were children. The letters become the story of their mostly unfulfilled relationship. The circumstances evoke feelings of humor, frustration, happiness, sadness, disappointment and more.
M. Kitty Getlik, Artistic Director of the Kelsey Theatre plays Melissa Gardner; Walter W. Smyth portrays Andrew Makepeace Ladd. Together they read aloud the other’s letters sent from the time they are in elementary school, beginning with simple, somewhat silly notes, appropriately childlike.
Notes growing into letters set the tone of the play, providing clarity and understanding of the relationship between Melissa and Andrew that continues and flourishes until they are well into their 50’s when both have dealt with “life”.
With minimal rehearsal time needed and no memorization required, producing this play was a perfect solution for a three-performance weekend at the Kelsey.
My words do not mean to suggest the actors just sit in place and read. They interpret, they fidget, they squirm and move appropriately in their chairs at their desks to convey the emotions of the moments.
Kitty Getlik brings understanding to her role as she twists her legs and feet, kicking off her shoes and feeling uncomfortable while writing notes to this boy as she portrays Melissa as a young girl. As she ages, her performance develops with appropriate body language and speech. It is clear that Getlik has years of acting experience.
Similarly, Walter Smyth shows the fear and trepidation of a young man awkwardly trying to write affectionate words to a girl. Speaking as a somewhat bashful boy at first, his character grows as he, too, matures, conveying his emotional need for Melissa.
Act I provides the exposition, sets the tone, and moves the play forward. Not too much happens; the audience wonders where the story is going.
However, Act II becomes more interesting as increasingly complex situations arise between the two long-time friends. As should happen with a good story, the storytellers draw the audience into their complicated and largely unfulfilled relationship.
M & M Productions — Mike Almstedt, Producer, and Mike Dilorio, Director — presented this Kelsey show. They should be pleased with the results.
by A. R. Gurney
Directed by Mike Dilorio
February 15, 16, 17, 2013
at Mercer County Community College
1200 Old Trenton Rd.
West Windsor, NJ 08550