This review was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews
Writer: Liam Lambie
Directors: Liam Lambie & Filipa Fallow
Musical Director: Filipa Fallow
The Public Reviews Rating:
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Liam Lambie’s Letters From Home is a cynical exploitation of Britain’s current obsession with nostalgia: as a nation we are drowning in a sea of Cath Kidston tea towels, festive bunting and vintage china tea parties, instead this musical play is an impressively accomplished, vivid and genuinely moving evocation of Glasgow life in the 1930s and 40′s.
This two-hander charts the story of Hughie McGuire (Liam Lambie) and Margaret Hamilton (Filipa Fallow), two young people who grow up in the tenements of Glasgow. We follow the pair as their love story develops in the early 1930s, watch as their lives are torn apart by the declaration of World War Two and walk the rocky road through to V-E Day with them as the troops come marching home. Seamlessly interwoven into the dialogue are some of the biggest and most emotive hits of the era.
This isn’t a rose-tinted spectacles version of the 40′s, instead it confronts head-on some of the less palatable aspects of life in wartime. Writer and actor Lambie resists the temptation to cheapen the piece with a predictable story-line and lazy caricatures, preferring to imbue his characters with depth and deliver a story-line with genuine originality, and as a result the piece packs real emotional punch. The dialogue is sharply crafted and vibrant and there are belly laughs a-plenty peppered throughout the piece, which make the dramatic highs when they come, all the more affecting.
On such a simplistic set, with few props and costume changes, the story-line and acting have to do all of the hard work. Lambie and Fallow are an extremely talented pair, in particular Lambie as Hughie has an appealing charm that’s hard to resist; part rogue, part charmer, but ultimately flawed hero with a heart of gold, the depth of the emotion displayed by the young actor is worthy of the highest praise as are his vocals. Fallow too is an accomplished performer, exuding a real warmth, her singing voice perfectly evoking the wartime era.
This is a funny, moving and affecting little corker of a play which leaves a lasting impression. That it was written and performed by a pair of young professionals at the beginning of their careers is all the more impressive.