Yours, Isabel

This skilfully structured piece of theatre has clearly been a labour of love for writer/actress Christy Hall. Based on a number of real-life love letters sent between two sweethearts during the tragic years of World War II, the play follows the effects the war has on our two protagonists.Hall performs with her real-life husband Matt Lutz and the two have an electrifying chemistry. The small venue adds to the intimate feel of the production, yet the vast range of characters that are performed bring the play to life in a way you don’t quite expect. With so many characters performed and at such a fast pace you would be forgiven for forgetting that this is all performed by two actors. The direction by Rex Daugherty keeps to a frantic pace and, considering his set consists of only three black boxes, he has some excellent visual tricks up his sleeve to keep the play alive. Any director wanting to take notes on how to use a small venue to the best effect possible should come see this show. Kudos also to the use of lighting, music, costume and hair and make-up. Meanwhile the more emotionally delicate scenes are given the gravitas required and I can almost guarantee you will either shed a tear or at least have a lump in your throat at some point. Yet, despite its subject matter this is not all doom and gloom, and is actually one of the funniest shows I have seen this year. Both performers are fantastic and their talent for switching from one character to the next both physically and emotionally is truly outstanding, which includes some hilariously grotesque characters. If I had any criticism it would be that with all the visual trickery and fantastic character work by the actors that you can sometime lose focus on the actual script itself. Perhaps it just means that the play demands your full attention or, even better, you come back for a second viewing to catch all the exquisitely performed detail that you missed last time around whilst keeping a firm focus on the story. In fact, some audience members did mention that they had enjoyed the show so much that this was their second viewing, so this has a possibility of being a real sleeper hit and at such a reasonable ticket price you can afford to come again. Hall’s quick-fire dialogue has a delightful way of overlapping each individual’s letter in a way that creates a fully realised conversation and a lot of the humour comes from this. However at the heart of Hall’s richly layered script is a love story that is shaped and altered due to the war. It will no doubt resonate with many, and others will have a clearer understanding of the effects the war must have had on their own relatives. A truly beautiful piece of theatre that creates the entire existence that revolves around two people trying to maintain a relationship whilst the world pulls them in different directions.

Reviews by Stewart McLaren

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The Blurb

1942. A world at war. A woman left behind. Inspired by real letters, Yours, Isabel tells the beautiful story of WWII from the perspective of one American woman left at home.