Fierce Festival 2019 / Birmingham, UK / 15 – 20 October

Fierce Press Gang: Love Letters


I have to admit, my feeble knowledge of Birmingham was truly put to shame on Saturday night as myself and Holly Riddle spent a good two hours trekking the streets, desperately trying to find the TROVE building for a performance of Love letters by Uninvited Guests . When we finally found the building however the performance was completely worth the struggle it took to get there.

We walked into the space which was lit dimly with red candles spread along two banquet tables which faced each other, each seating around 20 members of the public. Red drapes covered the walls and windows, leading to a very intimate and communal atmosphere, helped along I think by the glasses of cava presented upon our arrival. Jessica Hoffman and Richard Duffy  were seated at either end of the room at small tables with an apple mac and a microphone. They waited until everyone was seated and then commenced with a comical and strangely beautiful battle of love songs for example, ‘Where is Love’ from Oliver for Jessica and ‘I Believe In A Thing Called Love’ for Richard.

The group say, ‘Let’s raise our glasses to long-lost loves and current lovers, to mums, to dads and to absent friends. Uninvited Guests stage an event that is somewhere between a wedding reception, a wake and a radio dedication show. We speak of our own and other’s loves – deep, passionate, ambivalent and unrequited – and dedicate songs to them.’ Based around weddings and the outpour of emotion shown the group aim to reproduce that show of emotion in an environment where people feel safe. Throughout the evening the two performers read out dedications made by people sat around the tables; dedications to Mothers, lovers, wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends and even a small child in Africa called Ef… Each dedication was treated with the utmost respect and compassion and accompanied by a song.

One dedication in particular struck a chord with me. Jessica read an anonymous dedication from somebody talking about their Aunt who had fought a loosing battle with cancer. It was touching and beautiful and a man further along the table a stranger stood to raise his own glass to her memory. I’m not ashamed to admit I cried. It’s not often that a piece of theatre affects me because I know, in the back of my mind, that what I am watching is not real, simply actors reading from the imagination of a playwright…Love Letter’s touched me and effected me deeply because it was real. Real stories of love and passion and humanity… Simply a must see.