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DETLING PLAYERS: Love Letters review by Neil Nixon

Friday 13th May 2022

Love Letters

A.R. Gurney’s epistolary play earned a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 1988, since when the two-hander has become a go-to crowd pleaser capable of adapting itself over time and to suit the needs of varied actor pairings.

Previous hits have paired Sigourney Weaver and Jeff Daniels, Jerry Hall and David Soul and Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrov.

The lengthy correspondence of Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III – permanently affectionate and attracted, but only fleetingly a couple – are charted over their correspondence, read alternately, and covering lives started in similar levels of privilege which then follow markedly different paths taking in triumph and tragedy.

Detling Players’ Colin Leggat and Lesley Phippen ably acquitted themselves to the telling of a story that requires timing, vocal inflexion and the subtle interpretation of a relationship changing over more than half a century.

The success of the two-night run also relied on staging that brought the performance into a raised area within the village hall, highlighting the intimacy of the correspondence and the feelings behind it.

Achieving the whole piece would have been impossible without the work of those supporting the players, including director David Abson.

Fittingly, the troupe’s next performance in their English village home is a three-night run of The Vicar of Dibley, opening on 10 November.


Photo shows Colin Leggat and Lesley Phippen