Gate Theatre brings back hit show Dear Elizabeth

Last Updated on 16 August 2021 by Showcall Editorial Team

Different actors are set to perform Sarah Ruhl’s play, Dear Elizabeth, each night in its new run at Theatro Technis in London in September

Dear Elizabeth theatre
Set for Dear Elizabeth designed by Moi Tran

The Gate Theatre in west London has announced that its critically acclaimed show Dear Elizabeth is returning for a run at Theatro Technis in Camden.

Written by Sarah Ruhl, the play is performed by a different pair of guest actors at each performance, both unrehearsed.

They tell the story of American poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell through the letters they wrote to each other between 1947 and 1977.

Spanning decades, continents and political eras, it traces their connection which was messy and profound, platonic yet romantic, distant and intense, a love that resists easy definition.

For each performance two actors will take the roles of Elizabeth and Robert. One will be a recent graduate who will be paired alongside a more established actor.

They will meet each other, the audience and the story of Robert and Elizabeth at the same time. The performers will not know how the story ends: they will discover it with the audience.

Directed by Ellen McDougall, it had a sold-out run at the Gate in Notting Hill in January and February 2019, featuring over 60 different performers including Tamzin Greig, Jade Anouka, Travis Alabanza and Tobias Menzies.

For the sake of better social distancing, it will now run at the larger Theatro Technis in Camden from 1 to 18 September 2021.

Actors already lined up for the new run include Ronke Adekoluejo, Esh Alladi, Pepa Duarte, Arthur Hughes, Jimena Larraguivel and Mei Mac.

McDougall said: “Dear Elizabeth resonates anew as we re-emerge from the Covid pandemic: it deals with our deep need to be with one another. It centres the unpredictable shape of real life.

“In Sarah Ruhl’s words: ‘Not neat. Not two glorious Greek arcs meeting in the centre. Instead: the pear-shaped, particular, sudden, ordinary life-as-it-is-lived.’

“For this new iteration, we are casting a new graduate in each performance alongside a more established actor. The graduating classes of 2020 and 2021 have had such a tough start to their professional careers due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Many have missed out on a showcase altogether.

“I’m so pleased Dear Elizabeth will provide an opportunity for us to introduce some of the most exciting new performers to a live audience for the first time.

“Finally, it’s brilliant to be re-making Dear Elizabeth in the beautiful space at Theatro Technis, in the heart of Camden. Technis has a really similar feel to the Gate – a repurposed space for performance, that is welcoming and unpretentious. It’s fully accessible.

“It has historically served its local Cypriot community and we share an international focus and close relationships with our local audiences. It is thrilling to have found a space that allows social distancing, and feels like such a natural home for our work.“

Greig added: “Dear Elizabeth was a thrilling theatrical experience, both to participate in and to watch the other performances.

“It was a heady cocktail of memory, poetry, surprise encounter, desire, longing, delicious playfulness and searing heartbreak. A love letter to love letters.”

The production also features design by Moi Tan, lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun and sound design by Jon Nicholls.

About Mark Ludmon 318 Articles
Mark Ludmon has been a journalist for over 20 years, specialising in theatre, hospitality and drinks after starting in regional daily newspapers. He has an MA in early modern literature and history, focusing on Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and a theatre studies MA from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama. He is a former panellist for the Olivier Awards. He tweets at @MarkLudmon.