by A. R. Gurney
This play by the American A. R. Gurney, once very popular but now largely forgotten in Russia, comes to life again in the Masterskaya Theatre's production. This love story, told in letters written by Andy and Melissa over the course of their entire lives, was created for two older actors. In Moscow it was performed by Armen Djigardanian and Irina Kupchenko, Oleg Tabakov and Olga Yakovleva, Vladimir Menshov and Vera Alentova. In St. Petersburg, theatre-goers remember the excellent, soulful production with Andrei Tolubeyev and Ekaterina Marusyak.
Director Ekaterina Gorokhovskaya has taken a different route. She cast two young actors as Andy and Melissa, which gives the play and unexpected poignancy and depth. The corniness, sentimentality and melodrama inherent in the play are lost. Love Letters as performed by Arina Lykova and Mikhail Kasapov becomes a desperate story of love as an eternal struggle between a man and a woman. This story could happen in any country, at any period in history, and Nikolai Slobodyanik's sparse scenography underlines this abstract notion of space-time.
Andy and Melissa met as children, started writing to each other and were unable to stop. Their lives unfold before our eyes, parallel but inextricably tied to each other regardless. A gifted girl from a wealthy family hits rock bottom, while a typical boy from the lower class reaches the highest rung of the societal ladder. A timid teenage relationship, broken up by their parents, becomes fateful. Although they're clearly meant for each other, Andy and Melissa can't be together and only their letters maintain the bond between them. That bond is streched to the limit, because to love is to walk on thin ice, to walk along the edge of a cliff, to burn, to rise and fall, to hurt and to save. Arina Lykova and Mikhail Kasapov tell a story of true love with the utmost honesty and sincerity, while the abstract stage design and style of acting give the play a sharp, contemporary resonance.
Director – Ekaterina Gorokhovskaya
Stage Design – Nikolai Slobodyanik
Music and Movement Coordinator – Yulia Kolchenskaya
Light Designer – Dmitri Albul
Sound Engineer – Maria Belova