Review: Letters, Gate Theatre
4.0Overall Score

This is my third and final viewing of Letters. Helena Lymbery and Isabel Adomakoh Young are the performers this week – reuniting these two women who previously worked together on Dear Elizabeth (another letter-based production from the Gate Theatre.)

I am increasingly aware of the familiarity of the soundtrack with Ray Charles’s ‘Mess Around’ and The Marvelettes’ ‘Please. Mr Postman’. These light-hearted tunes emphasise the playful nature of these pieces and the nostalgic music is reminiscent of a rose-tinted past, described in our performer’s letters. Despite being written during a pandemic, these words are so emotional and honest that they evoke sentimentality. This is not to say that we should romanticise a period of turmoil, but it is undoubtedly important to recognise moments of light. 

As a nosy person, I enjoy looking at the backdrops of our performers – the spaces they inhabit reflect who they are. Adomakoh Young comments on her maximalism and her collection of objects that are “bought, found and given”. With these performances, not only do the performers get to know each other better, but the audience is privy to these intimate moments that expose deep elements of their souls. 

Lymbery has less stuff, but her possessions are still highly personal. She shares the chair of her late mother, and the photographs of her parents on her walls, who are sadly no longer with us – These moments are individual, yet collective. The emotional resonance of an object or a photograph is something in which we can all relate to and a feeling we can share. These conversations show how much we, as humans, have in common: we yearn for human contact, connection with people known and unknown, and believe in hope for the future.

My favourite section of this week is of course the poetry segment, which I find to be the most candid reflection of people’s contemporary headspace. The words we seek comfort in truly are a picture of the landscape of our minds. Helena chooses ‘Remembering Eve’ by Toni Morrison and Isabel chooses ‘The Tiger’, the iconic poem by Nael, aged 6. Poetry is best appreciated aloud and I always hear new pieces that I need to add to my collection. Poetry, like music, gains significance when you know of its meaning to others. 

I have thoroughly enjoyed my glimpse into Letters created by the Gate Theatre. This theatre constantly creates pieces that are timely and reflective, so it’s no surprise that these online offerings are no different. It is a true pleasure to review work that has such heart during such a chaotic time, and to feel, that despite the social distance between us, we are all still connected.

Letters is playing until 7 October. Tickets are available at The Gate Theatre website.