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Dear Elizabeth review – poets bare their souls in a lyrical show

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Gate theatre, London
Jade Anouka and Jonjo O’Neill give first-rate performances reading the letters between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell

Sarah Ruhl’s dramatisation of the letters exchanged between two great poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, was first seen at Yale Rep in 2012 and is not without precedent.

What is unusual about Ellen McDougall’s staging is that two different actors perform the show each night without rehearsal, in an attempt to depict “life as it is lived”. Even though I question the principle, Jade Anouka and Jonjo O’Neill did a fine job on press night, and the piece offers a rich testimony to the possibilities of romantic friendship – one that endured from 1947 to 1977.

Related: Violet review – Fun Home duo's road trip gets lost in music

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