Monday, December 02, 2019

"Dear Jack, Dear Louise" at Arena Stage

Content warnings: offstage war sounds, period appropriate use of the word crazy

The show takes place during World War II, as the titular Jack and Louise begin corresponding and, well, the fact that there are two actors for ninety minutes, coupled with the program note that the playwright was inspired by his parents wartime letters, I suspect it will not surpise you to learn it goes well.
Epistolary stories are a tricky thing to pull off in live theater. The two actors are speaking almost exclusively to each other throughout the show, and yet not looking at each other. They look out at the audience. 
I normally think in most shows, it doesn't much matter which side you sit on. For the entire first act and most of thr second, I was on the Louise side. Louise is the passionate firecracker who wishes to be a Broadway star. Jack is a doctor stationed initially in Medford*, Oregon and then later elsewhere. Jack is shy, although when his family gets wind that their suggested correspondence might be going well, they invite Louise for a visit and he manages to stage manage good family behavior as much as possible from afar.
They are unable to meet due primarily war reasons, so must rely on letters and occaisional relays of info from other folks they have in common.
I mention that I was on the Louise side because it meant I was able to see more subtleties in the actress Amelia Pedlow's performance. Probably folks on the Jack side (Jake Epstein) caught more of his.
I was caught up and cheered and worried for them even though, I had read the program and had suspicions of the outcome.