Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings


Faye Bingham as Louise

Dear Jack, Dear Louise

The Nonentities

The Rose Theatre, Kidderminster


In these days of the high speed internet and mobile phone communication, it’s almost unthinkable that at one time, the only way for any form of personal communication was by the lengthy process of a handwritten letter.

Nowadays people can have an anxiety attack if a text is not answered immediately but imagine how that would feel if it was days or even weeks and even worse, when you know the person on the receiving end might be in real danger.

That then is core thread of Ken Ludwig’s Dear Jack, Dear Louise. For all of its nostalgia of a Second World War story, it’s a relatively modern play, being first produced in 2019. The story said to be a homage to the authors own parents, details the building of a long-distance courtship by way of their written letters.

The story involves just two characters. Jack is an army doctor stationed thousands of miles away, whilst Louise, an aspiring actress and dancer faces her own battles to make it on the New York theatre scene. Whilst the war rages they both exchange letters detailing their thoughts and emotions and it’s that content read out, that forms the dialogue of the play.

Over time they become closer and the writing changes from cordiality to affection. As with modern day communication there are sometimes misinterpretations in the words when received giving rise to anxiety or even Jealousy.

It’s a perfect play for the studio environment at the Rose with its intimate feel putting you right into the room as the letters are received. It also has the perfect cast and director. Louise and Jack are played respectively Faye and Andy Bingham with the experience of Director Richard Taylor to guide them. If this had been on a larger stage you might not have felt the impact of this developing relationship or quite felt the personal emotion the cast are able to deliver.  


Andy Bingham as Jack

Faye brings a life and exuberance to her character. Louise has the theatre in her blood and her persistence to make it big in New York. Often facing disappointment at countless auditions then elation at getting a part, is very much the life of an actor and one Faye seems to draw upon when playing Louise. The fact she was playing opposite her real life partner, may have also helped her develop what feels like a very genuine, real and emotional performance.

Jack played by Andy is her opposite, a disciplined and reserved man dedicated to the war effort and his chosen profession. His world is one of carnage and horror and while his correspondence often sinks into despair it is his increasing affection for Louise that is his one beacon of hope. With only two players there’s nowhere to hide, and the performance is uniquely about watching each other’s reaction to each other’s words.

Act 1 is very much about establishing this rather polite and tame romance by today’s standards. However in Act II the relationship begins to reflect the desperation and tragedy of the time. It seems like they are destined never to meet and external forces bring them to a truly emotional conclusion. The final moments seem genuinely real for Andy and Faye in their performance and produced more than the odd tear from audience members.

Richard Taylor’s direction of the play is both fresh and yet nuanced with some subtle lighting and sound FX that heighten the letter readings and fully develop the atmosphere. Faye and Andy Bingham are long time performers with The Nonentities but this play signals a maturity in their lead abilities that makes Dear Jack and Dear Louise, well worth seeing. To 5-11-22

Jeff Grant


The Nonentities

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