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Multiple personalities in Love Letters

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CPCC Theatre offered patrons a quick study on how different casts can put their own personal stamp on A.R. Gurney's Love Letters, presenting three different couples as lifelong correspondents Melissa Gardener and Andrew Makepeace Ladd, III. Having seen the show multiple times before, I opted to confine myself to opening night, when Patrick Ratchford and Susan Roberts Knowlson shared the stage.

Ratchford earned kudos for being the most caddish Andrew that I've seen -- once he began observing the necessary beats he needed to insert between letters -- while Knowlson vied with the primmest. Tom Hollis adopted a puzzling approach to directing the script, which is often performed as a reading stage piece behind lecterns at fundraisers. James Duke created a split set for the production, Ratchford in his study confined to stage right, but Hollis didn't require the actors to discard their scripts -- or even format them to resemble a sheaf of letters.

As a result, Ratchford rarely made eye contact with us from behind his desk, and the pauses weren't automatically forced by his papers. Would he have been more caddish or less if we were looking up at him behind a lectern and Andrew's letters were closer to eye level? No telling.

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