What happens when you present a charming script and add two of Cleveland’s most beloved actors? You get five sold out houses and calls with attempted bribes to get in the door.
The play, A. R. Gurney’s “Love Letters.” The performers, Cleveland’s first lady of the theater, Dorothy Silver and much lauded and awarded actor, George Roth.
Oh, what a special night it was!
George Roth sits at a desk. Beside him, Dorothy Silver sits at a companion desk. They are seated in front of a large, beautifully painted canvas of what looks like a wealthy, refined woman, in the recently redecorated ballroom in the Judson Manor, home of Theatre in the Circle, where Mark and Bill Corcoran’s Theatre in the Circle performs.
They read letters written by Andrew Makepeace Ladd III (Roth) and Melissa Gardner (Silver), wealthy and positioned childhood friends. Their lifelong correspondence began with required birthday party thank-you notes and then summer camp postcards. Their parents thought they were likely candidates for a life-long romantic commitment.
Through many years we follow the duo through boarding school and college years. Andy goes off to Yale and great success. Melissa flunks out of a series of private schools. Alex goes off to war. Melissa marries, but Andy still remains as her first and only real love.
He marries, becomes a lawyer. She becomes a semi-successful artist. The letters continue. He gets involved in politics. She gets divorced and becomes estranged from her children and turns to alcohol. She and Andy have a brief affair, but it’s too late for either of them to commit to one another.
“Andy's last letter, written to her mother after Melissa's untimely death, makes it eloquently clear how much they really meant and gave to each other over the years—physically apart, perhaps, but spiritually as close as only true lovers can be.”
This is a unique piece of theater. As the author states, “it needs no theatre, no lengthy rehearsal, no special set, no memorization of lines, and no commitment from its two actors beyond the night of performance."
Capsule judgement: Silver and Roth are spirited, evocative, humorous, touching, and, of course brilliant in milking meaning for Gurney’s words and grabbing and holding the audience’s attention. If you didn’t get a chance to experience this special evening of “must see” theater, it’s a shame!
“Love Letters’ played from February 8-11, 2018 at Judson Manor in Cleveland.
Next up at Theatre in the Circle: ”Nunsense A-Men: The little Sisters of Hoboken grow a pair,” from May 10-13, 2018 (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Saturday and Sunday at 2). For tickets go to theatreinthecircle.com or call 216-282-9424.