by Terrance Mc Arthur
Two people sit at desks and read letters they wrote to each other. Does this sound like riveting theatre? Believe it or not, it is.
A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters won the 1988 Pulitzer, and the Good Company Players’ 2nd Space Theatre has brought back the much-requested play through June 16 at 928 E. Olive Ave. in Fresno. The story follows Andy and Melissa’s correspondence from his first acceptance of a birthday-party invitation, through their school years, their loves and losses, and all the complications of their lives until…it’s time for the audience to go home.
There are only two characters in the play, but director Karan Johnson has chosen eight performers for the run of the show. Each pair will perform for two weeks. Noel Adams and Tessa Cavaletto are onstage until May 5. Gordon Moore and Amelia Ryan will take over from May 9 to May 19. Peter Allwine and Danielle Jorn play the parts from May 23 to June 2. Chris Carsten and Amalie Larsen will finish up the show from June 6 to June 16.
All the performers have unique qualities that they will bring to their performances. Moore’s wry style, showcased so many times in GCP productions, will mine gold from the humor in the script, while the bright flair Ryan showed in Woodward Shakespeare Festival’s Merry Wives of Windsor will serve her well, here. Allwine and Jorn, returning to the 2nd Space stage from the recent production of Wait Until Dark, bring a youth and vitality. Carsten (Arthur in the recent Spamalot) and Larsen (a perky bird in Stageworks Fresno’s A Year with Frog and Toad), married in real life, have a familiarity and an ease of working together that few can equal when they share a stage.
Adams performed in The Elephant Man, the first production at 2nd Space in 1982, and his genial look fits the character, with flashes of impishness during the childhood letters. Andy’s adult stuffiness cloaks the passion that Melissa tries to bring out over the decades.
A veteran of about 40 GCP shows, Cavaletto gives a master class on acting without moving from a chair. Her feet point in and bend at the ankles at the beginning, just as a little girl’s would. Her hair is, by turns, girlish and blowsy. A glass of water becomes far too many alcoholic drinks in her hands. The restriction of being seated frees her to use many other ways to express emotion, including silence. Adams and Cavaletto both use silence deftly—as a wall, as a weapon, as an admission of defeat.
This show is such a delight, and the different sets of performers bring so many wondrous talents to the roles, that it would be a shame to restrict yourselves to only one interpretation of the play. See it again and again with different performers, a wonderful way to support local theatre…and have a great time at it.
Showtimes are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.; Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 p.m., and Sunday matinee at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $16 for general admission, and $15 for students and seniors. The box office is located in the lobby of Rocka’s Dinner Theatre, 1226 N. Wishon, at Olive and Wishon in The Tower District. Call 266-0660 or 1-800-371-4747, Tuesday through Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m., or try their website. You can also keep up with their shows right here on their KRL event page.
Check out more local theatre reviews this week right here in KRL & even more theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!