Love Letters Straight From Your Heart

Devised by the Company
Uninvited Guests and Fuel
Corn Exchange, Newbury
(2010)

Publicity photo

Uninvited Guests' Love Letters Straight From Your Heart is an alluring, charming theatre piece. The audience are greeted with a glass of bubbly and invited to sit on long dining tables all beautifully dressed in red cloths with candles and flowers. As we face each other we begin to wonder what this evening is going to be about - it's as if we have joined a wedding reception. We are told that today is St Valentine's Day and all of the audience drink a toast to love.

Richard Duffy and Jessica Hoffmann are the two actors who encourage us to "cry out with love and passion, feel the pain and the emotion and let's try and get some love in the room." They then perform as two DJ's as the love ballads and songs are played in turn. It's like a tennis match of music tracks as they flirt with each other from either end of the long tables.

We are then encouraged to look into the eyes of the person sitting opposite and try to make a connection. This was either a moving experience or highly embarrassing, certainly a seminal moment as Roberta Flack's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face is played.

The audience have been previously invited to send in requests and dedications and for the next 75 minutes you experience an almost voyeuristic journey into the audience's lives and loves, all delivered anonymously; such as the love from a father for his 15 month old daughter, Millie, to the song We Can Be Heroes, or the irrational explosion of teenage first love as the actors chase each other around the outside of the tables in sheer exuberance.

The dedications were personal and poetic expressing the emotions and experiences of the audience. Don't Go Now was a passionate appeal from someone in our midst.

At one point both actors asked a member of the audience to "just hold me", a loving tender moment that brought tears to some. There were some intimate and touching revelations of people's relationships and some poignant stories and you began to wonder who amongst the audience had made these dedications.

Richard gives his devotion to Shelley in a romantic dance complete with mirror ball effects and then invites the audience to join them in a dance with a partner; it could be anyone in the room. You could not help but be drawn into this celebration of love relationships and friendship.

This was a deeply emotional experience that left one in a state of pure joy and appreciation of the happiness, loneliness and losses of other people.

Reviewer: Robin Strapp