Does it matter that snail mail letters are dying out in our fast moving world? We can now email instead, cutting down fewer trees, so what have we actually lost? Plenty, say Newbury YT, a not-for-profit youth theatre group who claim there is too much isolation and miscommunication in today’s world. The Lost Letters is their workshopped response, playing out a devised medley of letter-centric scenarios.
A talented young ensemble dealing in thought provoking matters. You might need a lie down afterwards though.
After a cacophony of communication from the company (lovely opening), we explore these situations. Generational divide between elderly Cat Lady and her 12 year old grandson, boasting a friend called Ashtray. She writes letters, he sends emails. Off to the Great War next and an interchange of letters from the Western Front. These encourage eight year old Effie to think that her dad is fighting an enormous dragon rather than the Germans. Then three shipwrecked islanders all communicating through letters poked into bottles. An interesting sequence of stories, explored fruitfully by an ensemble who make effective use of a box set (well, a set of boxes) and minimal lighting to tell good tales.
It is all a bit surreal at times though. We start with the Tooth Fairies and the Angels (heavenly and fallen apparently reunited) bickering about tooth collection and miracles, all dressed up as works foremen. Then the ensemble become a group of cats, a sort of George Galloway tribute act. Finally, we end up on an island blowing bubbles with a pink flamingo, before playing baseball with a blow-up shark and cricket with an inflatable banana. Is it the Sixties? A Beatles album? The guitarist sings “I know we must do something now, for we all need therapy”. It is hard to disagree. Thank goodness it is in the Quaker Hall and nobody has had a drink. One washed up character says “I like to think this is my island and on my island I can do whatever I want”. Perhaps he is satirising Boris Johnson. Perhaps it is a metaphor for the show.
This is a talented young ensemble dealing in thought provoking matters and it is interesting to watch. You might need a lie down afterwards though.