Dead Letters

Sat 9th – Wed 13th August 2014


Georgina Wilson

at 19:22 on 10th Aug 2014



If you could get a Brownies badge for Good Deeds by doing a play, Dead Letters would be the one to choose. Featuring a hearty young lad called George (Daniel Sellick), the play tries very hard to get the message across that sometimes it’s up to you Take Responsibility – but only in moderation.

George works for Royal Mail, or rather, he works among a group of lively and energetic white-morph-suit clad creatures who are very good at synchronised mime and facial expressions. So far, so good; and so enthusiastic that sometimes it feels rather like we’re spending the afternoon in a jolly good childrens' show before toddling off the park for lashings of ginger beer.

Don’t be put off by that dreaded word – mime – this isn’t slow and silent drama class exercises about being in a glass box. Instead, the idea that letters travel around by wind and chance and the whim of the white morphy creatures is beautifully portrayed with some innovative use of what I think is recycled gutter piping. Trust me on this one. It’s better than it sounds.

The slightly draining joviality dies down with the entrance of Min Moultrie playing Alison. This actress brings an added dimension of maturity to the production, and tells Do-Gooder George that not everyone appreciates having their past dragged out of the post box and rammed down their throat. “This way I can choose my own truth” she says. That’s one of those Important Statements that you should all take note of, children.

George and his quasi-love interest with a mysterious past - “I never retrace my steps” - do interact in a sweetly endearing way, and their scenes just about save themselves from over-doing the sugar and becoming sickening. The audience are cosily involved too – we pass around a red ball of wool so that we are all connected up… like people… when they send letters…. Geddit? It’s like a metaphor for the glorious days of hand-written post. Or perhaps just an elegy for the bygone days of reliable mail.

Cast and production team have done very well with what is essentially a bizarre and slightly flawed concept. It can’t be a teddy-bears picnic to create something so visually engaging about a delivery boy.


Emily Brearley-Bayliss

at 10:08 on 11th Aug 2014



This performance was definitely a strange one. The concept is intriguing, and the play follows the story of a young postman, George (Daniel Sellick), who embarks on a journey to deliver all of the letters that never reach their rightful owners. This idea seems to lend itself to a stripped back, quiet, reflective and powerful interpretation, but PropUp Theatre Company took it in an entirely different direction. I am not sure that their approach worked.

The beginning alone seemed a little drawn out. With all cast members bobbing along to an upbeat but repetitive song, dressed in strange, white overalls, they were disturbingly reminiscent of the minions in Despicable Me. I don’t know if this is what they were going for, but the effect was that it set the tone for an hour of silly costumes and overuse of props.

The amount of mess they made in such a short time was extraordinary. Torn up bits of paper, envelopes and, most confusingly, talcum powder pervaded the air, to such an extent that I’m sure a lot of the audience felt an asthma attack coming on. It was an incredibly experimental piece, which combined dance, voice and some unexpected audience interaction to create the illusion of time passing as George made his way around the world.

The production was so caught up in movement that the script, little of it as there was, was lost. Some parts dragged, while others were skipped over at amazing pace, and a melee of characters that didn’t quite make sense came and went with very little explanation. Some of the scenes deal with quite emotional moments in the characters’ lives, but the actors didn’t have to confidence to throw themselves into them enough to make them as powerful as they needed to be.

This production is founded on a good idea, and I am sure that, in future, it will improve greatly. The actors were all completely competent, but just failed to go the extra mile to make their parts believable. In parts it was an enjoyable performance, but overall left me wondering what exactly was the point of the umbrella confetti?


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