Love Letters

Love Letters; 8 p.m. January 30 and 31, and February 7, 20 and 21; 2 p.m. February 8, 14 and 15; $10-$20. William J. Geery Theater, 2130 L Street; (916) 448-9019, Through February 21.
Rated 5.0

It’s not as easy as it would seem crafting a play out of nothing but letters exchanged between two people. Even A. R. Gurney, the playwright, calls it “a sort of a play” and “an event.”

An event it is when performed by two of Sacramento’s finer actors—Stephen Vargo and Martha Omiyo Kight—at the William J. Geery Theater. A play in which two characters reveal themselves only through the words they put on paper over the course of five decades requires actors who can portray joy, despair and emotional turmoil only through their voices (and, damn, these two are great at that!).

The actors sit on stage, a table between them, and read their letters. Their only interaction is the exchange of sometimes rapid-fire responses read from correspondences.

Andrew Makepeace Ladd III (Vargo) and Melissa Gardner (Kight) are quintessential East Coast WASPS. He is well-to-do and very proper; she is better-to-do and free-spirited. Through their letters, two lives are illuminated: He grows up, goes to Yale, gets married, becomes a United States senator; she paints, gets married, divorces, cracks up and tries to pull her life together—with the help of her “Andy.”

Their decades-long exchange of correspondence began in second grade, when he wrote to her that she looked “like a lost princess.” He didn’t know how right he was or how much he would care.