Love Letters at the Edmonton Fringe Festival

Love Letters

Telus Phone Museum (10437 83 avenue) August 14 – 16, 19 – 22.
More information: blarneyyeg.com


Holly Turner and Brian Dooley in Love Letters. Photo credit Mat Simpson.

Holly Turner and Brian Dooley in Love Letters. Photo credit Mat Simpson.

An interview with Holly Turner.

Describe your show in five words. 

Deceptively simple and quietly moving (from the New York Times review)

Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description?

Andy and Melissa begin their friendship as 7 year olds passing notes in school and maintain a deep connection with each other throughout a period of 50+ years.  The play reveals the twists and turns of their relationship through the medium of the letters they wrote to each other.

What drew you to wanting to be involved in Love Letters? What do you love about A.R. Gurney’s writing and storytelling?

Love Letters is somewhat anomalous in this day and age;  it is a simple tale, told simply.  No histrionics, no noisy confrontations.  I liked the challenge of bringing vitality and excitement to this understated drama of life long commitment and missed opportunities. The play never spells things out for the audience; it tells the story as much through what the couple doesn’t say to each other as what they do say.

There is also a nostalgic charm to the piece;  in much the same way that Mad Men conjures up a lost time, Love Letters invites the audience into a post-war world of privilege and safety.

Tell me about the relationship between Andrew and Melissa – what draws them to one another? Is this a case of ‘opposites attract’?

From the very beginning of their correspondence we see the strength of the attraction between them while we also appreciate how totally incompatible they are. Melissa is an artist and free spirit while Andy’s conservative upbringing sets him on a path of service, as he says, to his country, his family, and – last of all – himself.  But they also have much in common: first of all, a strong physical attraction to each other, and secondly, a shared experience that goes back to elementary school.

Throughout the play there is tension between their attraction and their sense that, ultimately, they could never, ever, be together.

How/why do you think Love Letters resonates in today’s texting/emailing culture? 

For the older generation, the play will be a welcome step back into a world where written communication was slower, more personal, and sometimes life-altering. For younger audience members the play might, just might, make them think about going home and putting pen to paper.

Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?

Maybe that Love Letters was recently revived on Broadway with rotating celebrity casts:  starting with Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow.

Bonus question: Any names you want to drop who have been involved in your show (Edmonton arts people or otherwise)?

Well, both Brian Dooley and Wayne Paquette are Sterling Award winners for previous Fringe productions.  Holly Turner garnered several 5 star reviews for her performance of The Year of Magical Thinking in 2009.  And Joan Wyatt, our stage manager, is off in the fall to New York where she will begin her MFA in stage management.

The 34th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 13 – 23. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca starting August 4.

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