Atlantic Theater Company’s world-premiere production of The Last of the Love Letters, written by Ngozi Anyanwu, co-starring the award-winning playwright and Tony Award nominee Daniel J. Watts (Tina: The Tina Turner Musical), and directed by Patricia McGregor, is playing a limited Off-Broadway engagement for September only. My advice: Get there while you can for this hard-hitting must-see show.
Staged in the format of two sequential monologues by her (Anyanwu as You) then him (Watts as You No. 2), the compelling script presents the perspectives of both sides of a tumultuous relationship and its traumatizing dissolution with a non-stop rapid-fire mix of direct address to the audience, rhetorical questions posed to the absent ex, self-examining of their own actions and motives out loud (at times very loud!), and surreal segments of hallucinatory imaginings in each of the estranged couple’s minds. The psychologically and emotionally penetrating piece is at times funny and at times heartrending, sometimes romantic and sometimes disturbing, ever insightful and always honest, as they agonize over the difficult life-changing decision and ramifications of staying or going.
The lead actors embody all the perceptions and feelings in explosive revelatory performances, flawlessly delivering the figures’ fast-paced stream-of-consciousness thoughts, self-doubt, raw emotions, and tender memories that come flooding out, with the requisite humor, uncertainty, rage, and heart. Under McGregor’s electrifying direction, their expressive vernacular language and affecting empathy, her contradictory musings and his exhaustive breath-taking physicality, are delivered with extraordinary mastery and no-holds-barred passion, while addressing important socio-psychological issues (which, to avoid any spoilers, I won’t reveal here).
Xavier Scott Evans appears in a supporting role (Person), who figures prominently in the psychological aspects of the theme, effectively reinforced by dramatic shifts in Stacey Derosier’s lighting and Twi McCallum’s sound. Costumes by Dede Ayite and a scenic design by Yu-Hsuan Chen further serve to illuminate the characters and their situations.
The Last of the Love Letters is a richly packed powerhouse of a show that demands to be seen, felt, and experienced, so be sure to get your tickets before the run, like its characters’ relationship, is over but not forgotten.
Running Time: 75 minutes, without intermission.
The Last of the Love Letters plays through Sunday, September 26, 2021, at Atlantic Theater Company, performing at the Linda Gross Theater, 336 W. 20th Street, NYC. For tickets, call (646) 989-7996, or go online.
Audience policy requires providing proof at the theater of a complete COVID-19 vaccination before the date of attendance, which is defined as fourteen days following a final dose of the vaccine. In addition, mask-wearing indoors at the theater is required for all audience members and staff for the duration of the performance.