Yours, - A Review by Lucy Davidson
It’s not often that you receive a handwritten letter. It is even more rare to receive one from someone that you’ve never met. Strangest of all is to receive a letter that discusses events you don’t recognise from someone you don’t know with an accompanying trinket (in my case, a beer mat from Edinburgh’s Panda & Sons). And yet, that’s exactly what landed on my doorstep a few days ago.
This is the premise of Jennifer Galt’s Yours, a remote theatrical experience as part of Framework Theatre’s Spring Season that, rather than being played to an audience in a theatre, relies upon what is unsaid, unseen and unheard via a collection of seemingly unconnected notes to reach its audience.
My letter was one of many of Galt’s collection written by strangers, to strangers. The rest are cleverly available online via QR code which grants access to a digital archive of letters that are scattered across the screen. Some of the writing is illustrated with accompanying doodles, some are written as if hurriedly on a diagonal and others are eerily beautiful in their restrained and uniform hand.
My letter, addressed to an unknown Anna, appears to come from a spurned or jealous lover who is furious at the attention her male companion has paid to the reader while in a bar or restaurant. This theme of yearning, missed connections and absent friends and lovers is present throughout each of Galt’s delicately-written and keenly-observed notes.
Observational quips about strangers on trains or buses complement angry scrawls that have been borne out of seemingly sharp exchanges between the author and its intended recipient. Deeper, more intimate letters also fantasise about falling in love - but strictly from a distance - or imagine the freedom that might come with missing your stop on the train and allowing yourself to be taken somewhere far away.
Sentences that discuss god, death and love purposefully examine various corners of human emotion without committing to anything or giving much away. The effect is that we, as the reader, are left to almost literally read between the smudged lines of each story and consider where we position ourselves in relation to what is - and isn’t - presented to us.
This level of restraint and distance is what makes Galt’s writing so effective and poignant, since we are left with the juxtaposition between the author’s anonymity and the quiet familiarity of the hand-written and first-person address. Online, readers are invited to give something back by writing their own letter. I’d like there to be even more, such as a way of adding our own responses to each note, or an almost interactive online element that uncovers connections or hidden meanings.
However, perhaps that’s the point: stones will always be left unturned, connections are regularly missed and stories often refuse to tie themselves up. It’s how we respond to them that shapes who we are.
A review by Lucy Davidson, as part of Framework's Theatre Writers Pilot Scheme.