Not Quite West End Review: Letters Live
I had hoped that the BAFTAs wouldn't be my final chance to see Benedict Cumberbatch in-person before leaving the UK, and was happy when Letters Live was announced, with him as the headliner. Not even knowing quite sure what I would be seeing, I figured anything featuring Benedict would be good, and made sure I got a ticket, even if it was the cheapest one available, and all the way up in the balcony.
Letters Live is an evening of readings of letters from history. They vary from centuries ago, all the way up to the present. With different letters and celebrities reading them every night, I had no idea what or who to expect on the first of five nights. I was pleasantly surprised with the readers who made an appearance last night. Obviously Benedict Cumberbatch was present, as well as Lousie Brealey (Molly from Sherlock), who read beautiful and cheerful wartime love letters to each other. Matt Berry (Douglas Reynholm from The IT Crowd) read three very hilarious letters throughout the night, including one from the creator of South Park to the MPAA.
Sally Hawkins (from Happy Go Lucky and Blue Jasmine) read a heartfelt letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother, as well as a tear-jerking letter addressing Jane Austen's death from her sister to their niece. Russell Brand made a quick cameo appearance reading a letter from Che Guevara to his children about being revolutionaries. Pianist Tom Odell opened each act with a beautiful song, which he played and sang, and then closed the show with a haunting performance of "I'm gonna sit right down and write myself a letter," by Fats Waller.
Amongst the rest of the readers were Toby Jones, Juliet Stevenson, Richard Holloway, Caitlyn Moran and Lisa Dwan. Cellist Natalie Clein also played a gorgeous piece of music from composer György Ligeti, which you can listen to here if you'd like. Overall, it was quite a nice night and I enjoyed laughing and tearing up while hearing all the literature being read. I was much to delighted to hear Benedict reading love letters in my presence and was happy to see him for a final time (for now!). The show is almost completely sold out, but if you're in London and can snag a ticket before April 4, it's definitely worth the price.
P.S. From where I was sitting in the audience, I could see Benedict's parents and wife! It's so lovely they could be there to support him on opening night!