Love Letters

Theater, Broadway
Recommended
4 out of 5 stars
Love Letters
Photograph: Carol Rosegg Love Letters

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

Love Letters. Brooks Atkinson Theatre (see Broadway). By A.R. Gurney. Directed by Gregory Mosher. With Brian Dennehy, Mia Farrow. Running time: 1hr 30mins. No intermission.

Love Letters: In brief

The stars will come and go in A.R. Gurney's popular 1988 two-hander, an epistolary romance between friends that stretches over 50 years. Gregory Mosher directs Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow (through Oct 10), then Carol Burnett and Dennehy (Oct 11–Nov 8), before moving on to Alan Alda and Candice Bergen (Nov 9–Dec 14).

Love Letters: Theater review by David Cote

A.R. Gurney’s pre-Internet epistolary romance, Love Letters, presented as a reading with rotating casts of two, is one of those cultural artifacts many folks have heard about, but few (that I know) have actually seen. Despite running briefly on and Off Broadway in 1989, it’s the sort of regional-theater chestnut that winds up in punch lines: “George Hamilton isn’t dead; he’s doing Love Letters in Pasadena.” Nice to learn that the thing itself is an affecting read.

Director Gregory Mosher keeps it sweet and simple: Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy sit at a comfy wooden desk, water glasses within reach, reciting from scripts. Both seasoned actors slide easily into their carefully shaded roles: She affects a pixieish impudence as free-thinking rich girl Melissa Gardner; he maintains a stiff sense of propriety as rules-bound Andrew Makepeace Ladd III.

Through missives that span half a century, from classroom notes to billet-doux between middle-aged, extramarital lovers, we watch them endure school, marry, divorce, drink themselves into rehab and finally admit the mutual passion that shaped (or warped) their lives. As usual with Gurney, the language is wry, witty and balanced by reflexive sadness, a mixed admiration and horror for Eastern WASP repression and snobbery. Although the piece may not push the envelope, it does leave a stamp.—Theater review by David Cote

THE BOTTOM LINE This vintage Gurney is worth a second read.

Follow David Cote on Twitter: @davidcote

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