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I Wrote a Letter to My Love

Real-life lovers bring A.R. Gurney's two-person 'Love Letters' alive

By Sarah Phelan

Is letter-writing a dying art? Not in Love Letters, A.R. Gurney's witty, finely tuned play about a long-distance couple who have remained connected since fourth grade through correspondence of the snail-mail variety. Writing each other letters that trace their diverging paths from teenage crushes and hormonal highs to tough career choices and extramarital affairs, Andy and Melissa, the stamp-crossed lovers, have bittersweetly stayed in touch.

Now being performed for two Sundays at Peachwood's Steakhouse, Love Letters features a different couple each weekend. Last Sunday, Marcus Cato, managing director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and Carolyn Hyatt of Elf Empire Productions took the lead roles of Melissa and Andy. And on Sunday, June 5, Paul Whitworth, artistic director of Shakespeare Santa Cruz, and his wife, Kate Hawley, actress and playwright, take over the leads as the goody-two-shoes Andy, whose wooden writing reflects his apple-polisher personality, and Melissa, the hedonistic high-flying artist, who shocks Andy with graphic confessions of romances and drinking binges. Together, the duo dance an unlikely literary tango--she poised self-destructively on the edge of the abyss, he a dancing bear on a chain of societal expectations.

Love Letters will take you from days of budding sexuality and self-doubt through fully fledged sensuality and more self-doubt. It'll make you search out your illicit love letters, mourn your lost youth and wish for a pen pal. It might even stir you to write a letter to your love, which at 37 cents (and counting) is still a cheap thrill.

What's more, you'll get the chance to see Whitworth and Hawley on stage together for the first time in years. Whitworth, who's currently in Blue/Orange for the Aurora Theater Company in Berkeley, will be directing Shakespeare Santa Cruz's presentation of W.S. Gilbert's Engaged by this summer. A portion of the ticket price will be donated to Shakespeare Santa Cruz as a thank you to these actors for their participation in Love Letters.

It's also a handy reminder that Shakespeare Santa Cruz's 2005 summer season is just around the corner, tempting us with a trio of dramatic treats, namely Twelfth Night, A Winter's Tale and Engaged. In the meantime, the audience gets to trade Shakespeare Santa Cruz's in-the-Glen picnic scene for table service by watching Love Letters while savoring dinner. Enjoy!

Love Letters. Peachwood's Steakhouse at Pasatiempo Inn, 555 Highway 17, Santa Cruz; dinner seating begins at 5:30pm, reservations strongly recommended, seating extremely limited; call 831.426.6333.

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From the May 25-June 1, 2005 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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