The Secret Letters of Gertie and Hen
New Wimbledon Studios, London
Seen April 7th, 2018
Reviewed by Jade Prince
A very sweet yet harrowing tale of two ten year old girls. Two ten year old girls , very similar but worlds apart. All due to their country of origin. After years of friendship and hundreds of letters back and forth they are soon to learn this must cease. They are now considered enemies but association. World War 2 has broken out.
‘The Secret Letters of Gertie and Hen’ has finished workshopping and held two private previews ahead of their launch and short run in November 2018 at the New Wimbledon Studios.
If I am completely honest, the first act was enjoyable. I wouldn’t say that it completely wowed me but I do believe there is definitely potential. It is a rather unique story. A story which I actually really like. It is not one we hear very often. We finally get to hear from the female’s point of view. Those who were left behind. So frequently we only get to hear the male take on events. With the character list being rather extensive you do get to see a lot of other view points too.
It is also nice having such a range of topics covered in one play. It covers love, politics, loss and friendship to name a few. Yet despite the amount of topics covered it doesn’t feel crowded. There were a few scene which I felt didn’t add or detract from the story and actually dragged out the first act a little. Apart from this the other scenes were still really engaging. I was not expecting the drastic turn of events at the end of act 1. That is definitely something which I feel will bring the audience back after the interval. I personally was gutted I couldn’t stay to see act 2 and now have to wait until November to see the full thing! Once the ‘drastic change’ started it was easy to predict what would happen next. I just hope the rest of the show isn’t like that.
Script wise, it was very strong. I felt a few of the intense scenes seemed to escalate very quickly with no between group. One minute the character are just talking and the next an argument is taking place. There was no development on that showing the lead up to the that. I think in a few cases the script wasn’t the issue, it was more the direction given.
Seeing as the show will continue at the same venue in November, I feel that it is important to comment of the set up and direction. I really liked the fact that levels were used. It was nice to have each family in their own performance space. Very rarely they overlapped. It was a rather small cast considering the amount of characters and it was handled well. In November it would be nice to see a slightly larger cast so that the roles aren’t doubled up. But I can’t fault how it was handled in these previews.
It was a nice touch not having a restricted performance space and various routes were used to enter and exit the stage.
I personally felt that the scene changes were very brief. At some points it didn’t feel like there was any pause. It just went from one scene straight into the other. As an audience member I don’t feel like in those moments I had a chance to process the previous scene.
I honestly do look forward to seeing this in full come November. It definitely does have potential. A unique take on events which I believe will draw the audience in. With a little tweaking and polishing, this could be great!
Be sure to follow The Key Theatre Company on twitter for more information on their upcoming dates.