Two words: The Letters.
Two people: the Director, and his subordinate, Anna.
Two pictures on the wall: Lenin and Stalin. Lest they--and we--forget it’s Russia in the 1930s.
Anna has been summoned to the Director’s office but when she arrives, he’s not there. From the minute she enters, she radiates tension, concern. Why has she been asked to come? Why isn’t he here? What’s this about? In these times, even if you have nothing to hide, there can be false accusations, intrigue, and lies. She’s obviously ill at ease. Should she stand or sit? Her stiff posture and her tight lips say it all.
Once the tension has us completely on edge, the dread takes over. The officious Director enters and attempts to make Anna feel at ease (or let her guard down!). She’s no fool. She knows anything she says can be twisted and used against her or anyone she discusses.
There are the inevitable questions, questionable answers, the possible lies. Where are the incriminating letters? Who has the letters? Why does he want the letters? What’s at stake if the letters are recovered? What if they’re not recovered? What or who do they expose?
The interrogation becomes an ominous tango. At one point, the Director stood so close to Anna, he could have kissed her. But he was so menacing, he looked like he could just as easily have bitten her. What was it? Sexual tension or contempt? This play, this situation, all under the watchful eyes of Lenin and Stalin, is guaranteed to keep you spellbound.
Kimberly Senior (Director) makes her Writers’ Theatre debut.
Upcoming: The Whipping Man (Northlight Theatre), Homecoming 1972 (Chicago Dramatists). She has been nominated for several Joseph Jefferson awards and citations and is the recipient of the 2010 Excellence in Teaching Award from Columbia College. Watch an interview about The Letters with director Kimberly Senior at www.writerstheatre.org/letters.
John W. Lowell (Playwright) has written a taut, tight, tough-minded play that resonates beyond the confines of its historical context. Other works include: The Standby Lear, Sheridan Square, Autumn Canticle, Leo Tolstoy Is In the Next Room Dying, Two Women in a Garden, The Genius of The System, and many more.
Kate Fry and Mark L. Montgomery are reunited onstage again in The Letters. Last season they played husband and wife in In the Next Room, or the Vibrator Play at Victory Gardens Theater.
THE DESIGN TEAM
The deceptively simple set designed by Jack Magaw grimly reminds the audience of thus repressive era. Those dominant pictures of Lenin and Stalin pretty much say it all in their sinister way. Christine Binder’s lighting design compliments the gray, intimidating look as Rachel Anne Healy’s hyper-conservative suits underscore the up-tight attitude of the day. Christopher Kriz’s sound effects and Nick Heggestad’s props completed the organic look and feel of the production stage managed by Rebecca Pechter.
Title: The Letters
By: John W. Lowell
Directed by: Kimberly Senior
Cast: Kate Fry (Anna) and Mark L. Montgomery (The Director)
Designers: Jack Magaw (scenic); Rachel Anne Healy (costumes); Christine Binder (lights); Christopher Kriz (sound); Nick Heggestad (props)
Closing performance: March 3, 2013
Wednesdays: 7:30pm (with select 2pm matinees)
Thursdays & Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 4:00pm and 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:00pm and 6:00pm
Location: Writers’ Theatre, 664 Vernon Avenue, Glencoe
Prices: Prices for all performances range from $35 - $70
Purchase early for best prices
Box Office: The Box Office is located at 376 Park Avenue, Glencoe;
PHOTO CREDIT: Michael Brosilow