Seeing as Mum has treated me so much over the years to many a theatre ticket and culture event in London it was only fair I pay her back. As soon as ‘Letters Live‘ with Benedict Cumberbatch headlining popped up in my inbox, I knew this was the one for us both.
After a mammoth meal at Hawksmoor Seven dials, always a winner although their Express menu is a bit of a disappointment these days with the choices they’ve gone for, but still very good value!
The main event though was hosted at Freemasons’ Hall which is the headquarters and meeting place for the various Masonic lodges around the London area. Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation which traces its origins back to the fourteenth century and the local fraternities of stonemasons. The masonic lodges are the basic level and the Grand Lodge, in this case Freemasons’ Hall, governs all the other lodges.
The architecture is fabulous and the perfect setting for our evening, we were even more excited when we thought we had found our seats right at the front made for two!
Letters Live is an event which has hosted a few nights over the last two years where a host of actors /actresses read beautiful letters from throughout history. 2015’s special four evenings had Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey headlining and throughout the evening many more popped up to have their turn.
We took our seats and the evening began (after Sienna Miller sat behind us) with a wonderful song from Tom Odell which sent shivers through us in the tranquil setting and his enticing voice.
The evening continued for over three hours, but surprisingly it was so interesting that we barely noticed. Highlights from the night included the three Elvis fans who wrote to President Nixon to plead with them not to shave his sideburns off if he went into the army! An apology letter from a Chinese gentleman to his dinner party’s host in about 800AD for getting too drunk and embarrassing himself, clearly nothing has changed over the centuries. Samantha Bond did a great reading of Tina Fey responding back to her internet trolls.
There was also a lovely piece between Benedict and Louise titled ‘My Dearest One‘ which was an exchange between a gentleman called Chris Barker who was in the army writing to his friend Bessie which in fact developed into a beautiful romance. It turns out they end up getting married once the war was over, which has been covered in their granddaughter’s book ‘Dear Bessie’ capturing their letters.
There were so many more interesting letters and the incredible people who turned up to read included Olivia Coleman, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Geoffrey Palmer, Colin Salmon, Tom Sturridge.
I would highly recommend you grab a ticket the next time it’s in town, I’ll keep my eyes open for any adverts as it was riveting.