Love Letters

Last night, I dragged my good friend J and my boyfriend Benjo to watch Kitin’s thesis play Love Letters. I found myself taking the train to Ateneo once again, a spontaneous trip made out of love and support for my friend. I had no idea what the plot was. And lo and behold, we got the shock of our life.

Love Letters is a story of two childhood friends, Andy and Melissa, who begin their complicated relationship by passing notes in their second grade class, Merry Christmas cards, and summer camp postcards. The two of them continue this habit as they lead very separate lives as they grow up, with Andy focusing on his family obligations and Melissa spiraling down into a very promiscious, alcoholic party life. Andy still finds himself drawn to her and asks Melissa to go steady with him. Melissa’s preference for spontaneity and other men make her refuse, yet they still hold on to each through their letter correspondence. As they grow older, the two begin leading very separate lives, with Andy excelling in the navy and eventually, politics, while Melissa flunks out of a series of high end boarding schools and a series of art shows that critics slam. The two refuse to acknowledge a need for a physical correspondence as soon as their other obligations step in the way.

The story is both amusing and tragic. It was amusing at first, seeing my friend play a bratty slut with amazing flirting skills. The story was tragic, with the characters refusing to make their relationship simpler with a physical and constant acknowledgement. Of course, one would argue that such polar opposite personalities would never work. At one point, they had started a brief affair that the press eventually released as a “senate sex scandal.” Andy chooses his more conservative life after the scandal in order to gain reelection, leaving Melissa to break down and find solace in alcohol. Andy could have saved someone he had loved for so long, only to let her go at her worst moment. It is here that we see the importance of physical presence in a relationship–some things can only be learned about a person through conversation and experience. Andy, in the end, stayed a coward about his love for Melissa, hiding behind his letters–only acknowledging this after her death.

I’d have to give props to Kitin for playing Melissa well, as we found ourselves shaking our heads at her privileged brattiness. Her co-actor, Jonathan, did an equally impressive job as clean cut Andy, exuding the disturbing conservativism of Republican Americans despite his very Filipino looks. With this production as Kitin’s second acting stint and Jonathan’s first try at a play, the two carried their roles very well with a chemistry that worked on stage. In terms of presentation, however, one can easily space out and simply listen to their dialogue to get hold of their story. The story itself, which relies on letter correspondence, works better as a radio play than a stage production.

Overall, I’d rate her thesis a 3.0 (89-94). šŸ™‚

The only downside? Seeing someone you’ve known for years do a fake sex scene is sooo awkward! Only Benjo managed to sit through Andy and Melissa’s sexy time! Haha!

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