The beauty of a letter is that over time it becomes part of history as a documentation of personal stories of the past. Letters can share news of hope, scandal, love and death all of which determine the futures of those on the receiving end of these touching memoirs.
At the Old Red Lion Theatre, Althea Theatre presents One Last Thing (For Now) an anthological play that takes us on a nostalgic journey about personal stories in war letters. Devised by Lilac Yosiphon and the ensemble, this play takes place in a variety of cultures with multiple languages and shows the truth about the hardships of war around the world. Weaving in and out of storylines, this play presents the trials of war and the way communication has evolved over a hundred years.
It was wonderful watching all the actors constantly engaging with the scenes, whether or not the actors were the main focus of a story. The choice of moving and breathing together as an ensemble was brilliant. The solidarity of the group made it easier to distinguish characters between scenes. Often switching from different dialects and languages, the performers all made strong character choices differentiating each scene. Their use of props -trumpet, suitcase and letters – was unique and entertaining. These props brought a little lightness to the dramatic stories being told, which was nice to have some comedic relief.
One performer that stood out was Josephine Arden as she switched from a serious Indian schoolteacher to a young woman waiting for her boyfriend to come back from war. The transition between those characters was flawless and emotionally immersive to watch. The transition into the storyline about the woman (Elizabeth Stretton) who makes pancakes for her partner (Tom Shah) who is in a war needed to be made clearer, especially because Stretton had just left a scene with a similar character. The play needed further physical clarification (not scripted) in the beginning of scenes; due to all the storylines, it was easy to get lost.
The dynamic stories of One Last Thing (For Now) captured the essence of the heartache of parting with loved ones during a time of war. Behind every handwritten letter, video call or email is a testament of one’s feelings that will forever leave a memorable impact on a loved one’s life.
Review by Alyssa Chromy
An officer in Russia cannot bear to tell a woman, far away in Wales, that her husband has died. Instead, he writes her love letters pretending to be him. A woman in London awaits a letter that will never come while another skypes love messages to her boyfriend in Afghanistan. Elsewhere, a soldier addresses his last letter to his former teacher who refused to join the army. And a hundred years ago, a woman wants to send her touch to her husband, so she cuts off her hand and puts it in an envelope, and goes on a journey to the other side of the world to deliver it herself.
Inspired by love letters written during war time across different cultures and languages, One Last Thing (For Now) is a universal look at the words of love against the wounds of war and everything in between.
…. War wounds never quite heal, war letters are never quite forgotten; both just get hidden away by old memories and dusty pieces of cloth, waiting to be found…
One Last Thing (For Now)
7 – 25 March 2017
Old Red Lion Theatre
418 St John Street
London EC1V 4NJ Running Time: 2 hour 10 minutes with an interval