Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Love Letters"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2007 by Tony Annicone

"Love Letters"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

The Players' third show of their 98th season is A.R. Gurney's "Love Letters" which chronicles the relationship between a man and a woman solely through their lifelong correspondence. It tells the story of the staid, dutiful lawyer Andrew Makepeace Ladd III and the lively, unstable artist Melissa Gardner whose poignantly funny friendship and ill-fated romance takes them from second grade through adolescence, maturity and into middle age. Their bittersweet relationship gradually unfolds from what is written and what is left unsaid in their letters. Their words are both hysterical and moving and the audience comes to know both of them intimately, from their strict WASP upbringing, through later life political aspirations, love affairs, military service and artistic ambitions. This two character show is performed with the two performers at separate desks while reciting their letters to the audience. Veteran director Cait Calvo casts her two leads very well and their acting prowess wins them a well deserved standing ovation at the close of the show.

Playing Andy is John Mutter who has been directing and acting in area theaters for more than five decades. He captures the role of Andy from his carefree days of second grade while writing birthday party thank you notes and summer camp post cards to his romantic feelings during boarding school in New Hampshire and at Yale where he excels in academics. John handles the transitions of emotions from falling in love with a Japanese girl during World War II to his marriage to Jane, having three sons with her and finally becoming a Republican senator while still secretly loving Melissa and having a fling with her. He makes the most of all his comic and dramatic moments, giving an excellent performance while doing so. Bonnie Riker plays the larger than life role of Melissa with her many funny and dirty one liners. Bonnie originally started out as a model at the age of three in Newark, NJ, went onto model in NYC and appeared on Broadway with Gertrude Lawrence and Danny Kaye in "Lady in the Dark". She captures the role of the misunderstood girl from a broken home who fails in the better schools she is sent to as well as in her marriage. Melissa becomes an art student who becomes depressed when her art shows don't go over well,taking after her alcoholic mother, she needs to continually dry out at special places for rich people. Bonnie also succeeds in the dramatic moments where she captures Melissa's desperate behavior at the trying moments of her life. Both performers excel in their roles, delivering a topnotch performance. So for a wonderful evening of theater, be sure to catch "Love Letters". Be sure to contact Lydia to become a member of this theater club.

"Love Letters" (27 January - 4 February)
THE PLAYERS
Barker Playhouse, 400 Benefit Street, PROVIDENCE RI
1 (401)273-0590

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide

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