Dead Letters

In this era of electronic messaging devices, where nothing texted or emailed seems personal, permanent or important, there is something romantic about a tangible, hand-written letter. PropUp Theatre’s energetic and engaging production Dead Letters is fascinated by the old-fashioned letter and, specifically, by the Dead Letter Office, where letters that can’t be delivered “go to die.”

A lot of fun physical theatre and inventively used props help to illustrate the journeys of the letters and of George himself on his mission.

George works at the post office. After a promotion, he discovers the Dead Letter Office. The first letter he finds inside happens to be addressed to a woman he knows. He steals the letter and delivers it to her. Her reaction inspires him to steal more letters and go on an extended, perilous journey to deliver them all.

There are some lovely ideas in this young company’s work. The stage is set with an iconic Royal Mail postbox and brown-paper packages, instantly recognisable and evocative. Postal workers read out an amusing series of postcards, which are “the best part of the job,” George tells us, because you can read them without breaking the rules. A lot of fun physical theatre and inventively used props help to illustrate the journeys of the letters and of George himself on his mission. A lovely score by YoungKhan keeps the production pulsating along at a cracking rate.

However, there are some gaps in the story. George never fully articulates his reasons for wanting to deliver all these letters and we see few of the reactions of the recipients when they receive their long-lost mail. This means that when everything doesn’t go fully to plan for George, it is difficult to understand his disappointment – we never see the effect this project is having on his life. The show’s structure is more interested in George’s physical journey and the strange people that hinder his attempts to deliver the letters, which is enjoyable, but means that we have little emotional connection to George, his mammoth task, or the letters’ recipients.

Nevertheless, PropUp Theatre seems an inventive theatrical team with a promising future ahead of them; with Dead Letters they have created a highly diverting show. 

Reviews by Jenny Williams

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The Blurb

Following the story of George and his discovery of the Dead Letter office: a room full of desolate letters that are are left to die after being deemed undeliverable. Unable to simply let these letters go, he embarks on a mission to deliver each and every one. George is forced to confront the possible ramifications of excavating people's past, and how this can affect everything you know to be true. Using physical and visual storytelling, PropUp explores the notion that perhaps, some things are better left unsaid. 'A very slick performance from a young, talented cast' (ThreeWeeks).