Preview-Love Letters-Brave Heart Theatre


By: Meaghan McGurgan


Fans of A.R. Gurney’s work will be proud to hear that his award-winning and much loved play Love Letters is coming to Hong Kong. The play centers on two characters, Melissa Gardner and Andrew Makepeace Ladd III. Using the epistolary form sometimes found in novels, they sit side by side  and read notes, letters and cards spanning their 50 year relationship, outlining their hopes and ambitions, dreams and disappointments, victories and defeats...


Andy Chowrowsky (playing his namesake) performed the play here some years back so knows - and loves - it well.  “A.R. Gurney has a very recognisable voice" says Andy. "His milieu is without a doubt the WASPy mannerisms typical in the Northeast US.  His writing is always poignant, funny, and above all, tight and economical."


“It’s super-romantic" adds Tom Hope, the show's director "and all the more so for being set in a pre-email era when people actually communicated by letter“.  Living in an expat culture; we all correspond with loved ones from back home. Long distance loves and relationships are all too common for Hong Kongers so Love Letters should make you think fondly on the time of snail mail: who didn’t love receiving a letter as a kid or a care package in college? 


Famous actors like William Hurt, Elizabeth Taylor, Mel Gibson, Kathleen Turner, Chistopher Walken and Stockard Channing have done this play before, to much praise. It’s a staple in the American theatre rep scene. How did the cast feel about taking on a script so iconic, that has been performed by so many Oscar winners? 


“The play cuts a fine balance and even slight changes run the risk of shifting it from poignant to schmaltzy.  We'll honour his (A.R. Gurney’s) vision and perform as written,” says Andy. "And" (adds Tom) "give it a Hong Kong twist.”


Brave Heart's mantra is 'local theatre for local people' and they are pushing to showcase a variety of talent from Hong Kong’s performing arts scene. Love Letters facilitates multiple performers for the same role because the actors are required to read from their script (A.R. Gurney's notes are prescriptive on this). Audience members will therefore have a choice in seeing three local actresses - Nina Kwok, Sarah Martin and Jennie Parker - play Melissa.  



Sarah's from New York, Jennie from the Mid-West but Nina is Hong Kong born and British raised. With A.R.Gurney so much a WASP writer, people might be wondering why cast a Chinese actress in a role that is written to be Caucasian?  "It's true that Gurney's script is very much of its time and place" responds Tom "but it's perfectly credible - especially with an actress as accomplished as Nina - to present Melissa this way - plus it adds an extra dimension to the narrative when Andy threatens to bring home a bride from Japan. Which isn't to say that you should watch Nina in preference to Sarah or Jennie - ideally we'd like you to watch all three in action on different nights!"


Sarah trained as an opera singer and came to HK only last year, appearing most recently in Brave Heart’s sold out production of The Vagina Monologues” earlier this month. Jennie has been in HK a while longer and has graced both boards and screen in her time here, while Nina trained in the UK and then worked for the BBC and RSC before rebasing to Hong Kong where she has performed in the HK Arts Festival.  To find out which actress is playing which night, check out their performance schedule on the Brave Heart website.


Still have questions on what Love Letters is about? Check out this youtube promo of the recent Broadway production starring Brian Dennehy and Mia Farrow.



Jump on a cozy sofa (with free beer included from sponsor Scapa Scandia) from February 25th through March 14th!  Tickets are currently being sold on Ticketingover. Audience members can save 50hkd by purchasing their tickets online. The show performs twice nightly, Wednesday through Saturday at 7pm and 9pm, with the exception of the opening night gala performance on February 25th at 8pm.


This opening night gala performance will benefit KELY Support Group. KELY is a non-government funded bilingual organisation which provides empathetic, non-judgmental, confidential and inclusive support to youth between the ages of 14 to 24 in Hong Kong. Their programmes and services focus on drug and alcohol prevention and intervention and are specially designed to tackle the root causes of abuse, including boredom, peer pressure, lack of self-awareness, low self-esteem, poverty, unemployment, and discrimination.  "And if you want to know why that's relevant to Love Letters", says Tom "then come see the show!".


Run time of the show is roughly one hour, making it a great pre or post dinner show to finish your evening.  As a Brave Heart, you can enjoy discounts at local eateries (click here for details - scroll down the page to 'Membership Privileges'). Patrons can also buy Season Tickets online that save you cash and let you see both main productions plus guest performer Aurora Theatre's rerun of Thinner Than Water by Melissa Ross.

 “Brave Heart’s repertory theatre format is well suited to a season ticket approach" says Andy.  "Each main show runs for 3 weeks and all 4 shows happen over a 2 month period.  Our season ticket scheme gives full flexibility plus value for money for all who want to support this ground-breaking initiative.”


Tom gives the perfect quote to end by…. “Love Letters is perfect for the Premium Sofa Club as a cozy living room style venue.”

What are you waiting for? Cuddle with a loved one and support a local art group, today!


Love Letter is playing through March 25th at Premium Sofa Club. For more information, click here.



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