The concept of Love Letters At Home is beautifully simple. Pick a person you love. Pick a song that puts you in mind of them. Then Jess Hoffman and Richard Dufty play those tunes and read out a collection of dedications from the show’s audience. We listen, squirm, laugh, wince, sigh, cry. Drink. And dance.
Uninvited Guests created a real life version of the show years before the pandemic was even a glimmer in the eye of the gloomiest Nostradamus. They decided to dust the idea down midway through the months of isolation, as we all sat at home yearning for people. And they’ve brought it to the Traverse (online) this Fringe.
It’s a beautiful idea. Hoffman and Dufty welcome us to this virtual dancehall – in reality, their respective houses. We’re invited to get ourselves a drink, enjoy the show with cameras off or cameras on and to settle back for the next hour or so. It’s made abundantly clear that this show isn’t about soupy, droopy, Mills and Boon-style love. This is about all the forms of love for all the friends and family we encounter through our lives. And this audience rose to the occasion with an incredible, heartfelt, poetic eloquence.
We listen to James Taylor, Antony and the Johnsons, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Talking Heads, the Eurythmics and Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. We hear stories of aunts, mums, best friends, sisters and lovers, both actual and longed for. The storytelling from Dufty and Hoffman around our stories ponders the nature of love – how it builds us up and humbles us in equal measures. And how all forms of love could and should be celebrated.
Beyond the construct itself (and the effortless technical execution), there are two special things about this show. The chance to share these extraordinary moments in the lives of all these people you don’t know is one. But the sharing creates a bit of a moment that does somehow pluck you out of your kitchen table or sofa seat and plant you into this virtual safe place where even love unrequited and losing people isn’t quite so gut-wrenchingly awful because we’ve all been there too.
Bidding us farewell, Jess and Richard entreat us to remember to be a bit nicer to each other. It’s not a lot to ask.