Reviewed by Mary Kippenberger
Take one brilliant script, one brilliant director, add four brilliant actors, mix in a brilliant support crew and you are bound for one brilliant piece of theatre.
Congratulations. Deep intake of breath. Wow.
Thirty minutes in and I realised I hadn't jotted a single note. Thirty minutes in the packed auditorium, we were as one, completely still, focused, immersed, aghast, no shuffling, no coughing, just complete immersion in this divisive story.
Lisa-Jane Easter is one of New Zealand's finest directors. She honours her playwrights, she honours her actors. She has the phenomenal ability to make the smallest of suggestions resulting in the greatest of impacts. No matter how seasoned or gifted an actor you are Ms Easter is the catalyst through which you become your finest self. There were four "finest selfs" on stage this evening. We, as the audience, were privileged to be there.
Jules Hamilton, as Lindy, gives a flawless performance. Understated, real, wise, at times raw she is the centre around which all else revolves. Moments of extraordinary power, leaving the audience close to tears, then slipping, chameleon like, into the background as the other characters came to rain their poison, their self-righteousness, their opinions or their love.
Julie Hales, Danny Priestley and Peter Cottrell, three more flawless performances, spoke our words. Literally. The gossips, the concerned, the cruel, the curious, the mindless, the thoughtful, the repentant, the gentle and the kind. Character after character strode, stumbled, sashayed on to the stage. A cleverly placed prop, a swift change of jacket, a hat turned backwards, glasses slipped on or off, the use of gesture, of silence, facial expression, the welcomed comedic relief, movement, consistency of accents, of dance and song, these consummate actors gave us a window into ourselves. An uncomfortable window. A timely window. Four stand-out, powerful performances.
This fine director, these fine actors, don't work in a vacuum. It's a package deal. So many people with so many skills wrap themselves around the cast, the gracious set, the builders, the painters, the effective lighting, the props, the wardrobe, the stage manager, the cleaners, the committees, the front and back of house, the businesses that support. It takes a village.
Letters to Lindy is a wake-up call for us all. There is nothing in the performance that gives us an out, no bad writing, no stilted direction, no awkward acting, just exposure to ourselves. An opportunity. Self reflection.
This outpouring of the worst and the best of humanity happened 40 years ago when pen to paper was the norm. Nowadays our humanity, or lack of it, is swift, brutal and global. Social media. Anxiety, depression, suicide, self-doubt fills our schools, our homes, our workplaces and our minds. Social media is both a scourge and a gift. We may not be able to control the machine but we can look into ourselves and come out of it changed and resolved to be our best version.
'Aroha mai, aroha atu'
(Love received, love returned)