Letters
by Brian Langlotz
Parachuting Camel Productions - Winnipeg, MB
V.3 - Alto - Portage Place 
Inspired by real events of the Second World War and soldiers in the playwright's own family. Follow the journey of Paul Bailey, a Canadian soldier fighting his way through Italy and his wife Betty, waiting for him to return, as told through the letters they send each other.

Cast:
Heather Krahn, Katerina Dawson, Isabel Haderer, Kayln Bomback, Jeff Whyte, Doug Finlayson, Dan Boileau, Adam Alexander Kirk, Alan MacPherson

 
Show Info:
45 Mins
Tickets: $12

Genre:
Play-Drama

Audience:
Parental Guidance

Warnings: Mild language, violent content, gunshots, smoke or fog

Thu July 18 10:30 PM
Fri July 19 9:00 PM
Sat July 20 3:45 PM
Mon July 22 7:00 PM
Tue July 23 10:30 PM*
*(2 for $12)
Thu July 25 3:45 PM
Sun July 28 12:00 PM

Letters

Parachuting Camel Productions—Alto – Portage Place

I have never been to a Fringe show before, save for outdoor performances, so my experience was doubly special: Not only was I treated to my very first Fringe play, but it also happened to be a very good one. Letters is a story we can all understand; a story about a country whose every citizen, in their own way, wanted to do the right thing in the face of incomprehensible cruelty. Some were called to serve, some stayed behind and tried to keep things running, to maintain civility and normalcy. It is a story that we have all heard before, perhaps from grandparents or even great-grandparents, about the time when Canada learned that silence means complicity and when diplomacy will not work, we need to be willing to risk everything to stand up for what is right.

Set near the tail-end of WWII, Letters is the story of a family that must come to grips with the grim reality of being torn apart by war, uncertain if they will ever be whole again. Told through the letters that are written back and forth, brought to life by truly stirring performances of the talented cast, and made all the more poignant by current events. Be sure to see it as this Fringe season comes to a close – and be sure to bring tissues. There is only one more performance: Sunday, July 28th at 12:00PM, in Portage Place (3rd floor). While you’re there, reminded of all the times you have heard “Never Again” and “Lest We Forget”, please keep in mind that Never Again Is Now and this is not only a historical play but also a cautionary tale.

Alicia Benson


Letters

Parachuting Camel Productions—Alto – Portage Place

There were some Tech problems with the initial audio and lights aimed during the show. Some dialogue was too fast.

I’m a softie and the show brought me to tears.

Bob Migliore


Letters

Parachuting Camel Productions—Alto – Portage Place

Letters is a Fringe show of epic scale. With a cast of ten phenomenal actors clearly dedicated to their craft and period accurate costumes and props, this feels more like a professional production than the average Fringe show. Prepare to be moved to tears! Be warned, there are some heartbreaking moments brought to staggering realism by actors who know what they are doing. A family is torn apart by World War 2, and the story is told by letters sent back and forth from Canada and Italy. The Christmas scene is particularly good, as well as a haunting monologue about Dieppe. Letters is a touching play that pays respects to the fallen soldiers without glorifying the horrors of war. See this show. It is an essential part of Winnipeg Fringe 2019!

Adam Kirk


Letters

Parachuting Camel Productions—Alto – Portage Place

Right out the gate this felt like a passion project of the director. The actors were stiff, the story wrote itself, and when I heard the first like I thought to myself- thank god this is 45 minutes. Reading letters aloud in a performance can be risky, and when your show is almost nothing but reading letters aloud pulling it off is hard. The cast was large, and some roles felt extraneous. Loosen up, have some fun with it, and this show would have a much stronger presence.

Arden Pruden


Letters

Parachuting Camel Productions—Alto – Portage Place

Letters takes place on two continents during the Second World War. While it follows Winnipegger Paul Bailey’s war experiences, it highlights the impact of the war on his family, friends, and fellow soldiers. Told through letters, separated in time between the minimum of two months it takes for them to be delivered and the other two-month minimum for their response to be returned, the play uses these spaces of time to punctuate changes in emotions and circumstances for every character.

The cast works together well. I attended the second performance and already they were beginning to gel into a tight ensemble. The venue, while amazingly comfortable for the audience with its theatre seating, presented some challenges for the staging. Previously a movie theatre, the long, narrow stage in front of the
screen enabled the separation between the war scenes in Europe and the family scenes in Winnipeg. On the other hand, with no back stage, and little depth, the complex entrances and exits combined with the need to walk the full width of the stage, required some adjustments to the staging of almost every scene. While one could occasionally sense the adjustments, especially when a scene on one continent morphed into a scene on the other continent, the actors handled the challenge well and seemed comfortable with the long walks to entrances and exits.

Emotions are intense throughout the play, ranging for despair to depression to anger to fear to acceptance and gratitude. Each actor understands his or her character’s emotions and projects them – and the changes to them – clearly. The director, Jessina Cheffins, well-known in the Winnipeg theatre scene, has adeptly captured these emotions in her efficient and effective staging.

Paul Bailey’s young daughter, Dorothy, plays an innocent foil to the adult fears, only vaguely aware of what her father is actually experiencing in the war. Isabel Haderer, who has played this character recently in a radio production, deftly modulates her journey from innocence to awareness.

I cried. I don’t generally cry at the theatre, so this surprised me. More than that, it spoke of the effectiveness of the cast and crew in bringing the realities of this play onto the stage.

I won’t be a spoiler but do pay attention to the curtain call and the different emotions that play inside you as you have to decide whether or not — and then when — to applaud.

Sharon Hamilton