Peninsula Productions’ next presentation, Love Letters, is a bittersweet Valentine to the possibilities of love and the strengths – and failings – of romance.
The A.R. Gurney play, which was a Pulitzer Prize drama finalist when first presented in 1988, will be at Peninsula Productions’ black box theatre space at Centennial Park for the weekend of Feb. 17 to 19 (Friday and Saturday performances at 7 p.m., Sunday matinee at 2 p.m.)
The sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking two-character play, directed by Dann Wilhelm, tells the story of Melissa Gardner (Jane Mantle) and Andrew (Andy) Makepeace Ladd III (Rob Burns) – both born to wealth and position in the Eastern U.S. – through a lifelong correspondence.
It’s a welcome return to the stage – and the role of Melissa – for popular local actor Mantle, who co-starred in the first White Rock production of the play, with the late Scott Wheeler, in the early 1990s.
Burns, who has acted in many shows for Vancouver’s Touchstone and Carousel companies, was most recently seen in the White Rock Players Club production of Other Desert Cities.
Reading Melissa and Andy’s words, and suggesting the characters at each stage of their lives, the actors in Love Letters are tasked with allowing the audience to, quite literally, ‘hear between the lines’ to discover the deeper emotional truth behind their assumptions and surface postures.
Their dialogue begins, simply enough, with charmingly childish birthday party thank-you notes and summer camp postcards.
But romantic sparks clearly emerge as they hit puberty, continuing as they exchange letters through the boarding school and college years – where Andy goes on to excel at Yale and law school, while the ever-rebellious Melissa flunks out of a series of ‘good schools’.
Although Melissa marries while Andy is off at war, her attachment to Andy remains through the years – and their correspondence continues, even as he, too, marries, becomes a successful attorney, gets involved in politics and, eventually, is elected to the U.S. Senate.
The Peninsula Productions space is next to the arena at Centennial Park, 14600 North Bluff Rd. (16 Avenue).
For tickets ($32.09), visit peninsulaproductions.org, showpass.com, or call 604-536-8335.