Coming from a prolific letter writing family–the single-spaced, two-sided, Underwood typewriter kind–I was interested in seeing just how Bob Rector’s “LETTERS FROM THE FRONT” would play out. Was it going to be simply a litany of touching soldiers’ letters recited by and staged for various actors?
As it turned out, the play provided much more: It was a multi-layered theater piece that had me chuckling, gasping, `Oh no!” and more than once, producing a tear or two. Basically, it’s about a well-respected journalist paired with a street smart promoter, who together, are trying to write/produce a play that will tell the stories of American soldiers to audiences, by using excerpts from letters dating from the Revolutionary War up to present day. The width and breadth of the letters were wonderful and showed such things as a longing for more communication, courage under fire, a couple of sexual references, loyalty to their families and their country, and my favorite, from a nurse during the Vietnam war, who was holding her patient while writing his mother about her dying son.
It was very interesting to see how Rector intertwined the various acts with action, dialogue, and the letters themselves. In addition, the back and forth bantering of the two lead characters was great fun as they pursued their brainstorming process, and much like the showbiz of today, creative integrity was pitted against a sell-sell-sell attitude.
This unique look at veterans from the various periods of U.S. history is well worth your time. It is a reminder of sacrifice, loyalty, devotion, and something else. To me, it was about the power of letter writing and how emailing and texting will never be its equivalent. With good, clear stage directions it is (and apparently already has been) ideal for stage production. Very recommended.
S. R. Mallery has worn various hats in her life. Starting out as a classical/pop singer/composer, she worked in clubs and churches while composing for educational filmstrips. From there, she moved on to having her own calligraphy company, a twenty-year quilting and craft business, and teaching English as a Second Language/Reading. Finally, she tried her hand at fiction writing and it was like an all-consuming drug. She’s been happily writing ever since.
She has had eleven short fiction pieces published in “descant 2008,” “Snowy Egret,” “Transcendent Visions,” “The Storyteller,” and “Down In The Dirt”. Several of her stories have appeared in different anthologies through Scars Publications. Before that, she had articles published in “Traditional Quiltworks” by Chitra Publications, and “Quilt World” by House of White Birches when she was a professional quilt artist/quilt teacher.