A.R. Gurney’s poignant two character play, "Love Letters," directed by Lynne Perkins is the closing piece of the season at the Brown County Playhouse.
The Love Letters between Andrew and Melissa begin so early that some are intercepted by their second grade teacher. Andrew is the one who loves writing. Melissa sometimes gets by with sending a sketch. The two are fast friends in elementary school, but high school separates them and summer camp, family affairs and college keep them apart. They meet only for a mess of a college weekend, one night stand.
Their lives continue on very separate paths connected only by Andrew’s frequent letters and Melissa’s far less frequent replies. Andrew and Melissa are a study in contrasts. Andrew’s father is controlling, but the family is stable. Melissa’s family breaks up not once but several times. Andrew goes on to Yale, Harvard Law, the Navy, a successful marriage, business accomplishments and even a seat in the U.S. Senate. Melissa’s career as an artist has some encouraging successes, but mostly discouraging failures. She goes through several marriages. She suffers from mental problems serious enough for hospitalization and an ongoing battle with alcohol.
Throughout these lives, Andrew and Melissa keep writing. They share their stories, accomplishments and ups and down. They even have a brief fling, but Andrew–as always–puts his career above their love. Andrew’s last letter is a condolence card to Melissa’s mother.
"Love Letters" structure is the simple alternation of the letters back and forth. Without skilled handling it could become dully mechanical. Rockland Mers has the problem of bringing attractive energy to the somewhat stolid Andrew. Gigi Jennewein needs to reign in and modulate the potential irritation of the more excitable Melissa. Guided by director Lynne Perkins, Mers and Jennewein played Andrew and Melissa like a pair of chamber musicians, skillful instrumentalists with a solid feel for the score. They were ably supported by subtly varied lighting by Marie Shakespeare and an equally subtle but nicely accented set of brief musical interludes.
A.R. Gurney’s "Love Letters" plays Friday and Saturday nights at eight and Sundays at two through October twenty-fifth.
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