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L to R: Erica Anderson and Geoff McBride. Photo: Andrew Alexander.

Theatre Review: Lo (or Dear Mr. Wells) at GCTC—until 05.17.19

By Laura Gauthier and Samara Caplan on May 4, 2019





Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).

Have you ever heard the saying “my door is always open”? You probably have, as it is a pretty common phrase—but why do we use it so often? Well, an open door is associated with the idea of being welcoming, approachable and being able to speak your mind and be truthful. Who knew a door metaphor could mean so much?

That defining moment is still so clear in Lo (Or Dear Mr Wells), which explores the relationship between Laura (or Lo) and her English teacher Mr. Wells—and it all seems to begin with a door.

L to R: Geoff McBride and Erica Anderson. Photo: Andrew Alexander.

From the beginning of the play it was very clear that every time Laura was alone in the classroom with Mr. Wells he would walk over to the door and make sure it was as wide open as possible—this happened consistently over the entire first half of the play. Until one day, after weeks of an after-school writing club (of which Laura is the only member), Mr. Wells asks her to close the door to block out sounds from the hallway. The energy of the show instantly shifted.

A character that started as a very likeable teacher—supportive, caring and aware of what was appropriate—shifted into something completely different. Laura tells this story from 10 years later, where she has just had a copy of her very first novel dropped on Mr. Wells front doorstep.

As a teenager Laura is immature and a bit damaged (because, really, who isn’t at 15?) but she is also intensely creative, strong, argumentative and a powerful young woman. We get insight not only into her thoughts and feelings as a teenager but Laura’s adult narration and reflection from years gone by allows the audience to understand how as a grown adult, now with more knowledge and life experience, she looks back on those years as a 15 and 16 year-old.

“On top of this beautifully written story the performances will leave you in awe.”

Written by Rose Napoli, Lo (Or Dear Mr Wells) has some of the most beautiful and powerful writing with impactful lines like “too pretty and talented to be a secret” and “in the pseudo darkness anything is possible”—you will get chills up your spine throughout the entire play.

There’s no intermission, and it is very clear why. The story will enthral and move you and an intermission would only break you out of the walls of the story and most likely lessen its impact.

Geoff McBride. Photo: Andrew Alexander.

On top of this beautifully written story the performances will leave you in awe. Geoff McBride plays Mr. Wells, seamlessly moving between likeable, growing to a manipulative and insecure character. Erica Anderson plays Laura so transparently and vulnerably through two stages of her life. The emotional demands of the role are high and Erica more than meets the challenge.

Whatever you do, don’t miss this show—the full theatre erupted in applause and cheers with a standing ovation after the final scene on opening night. This story is one that needs to be told, needs to be seen, and everyone should know that a lot can happen behind a closed classroom door.

Lo (Or Dear Mr. Wells) continues at the GCTC until Friday, May 17th. Shows are Tuesday to Friday at 8:00pm, Saturdays at 4pm and 8:30pm and Sunday matinee at 2pm. Tickets are $38–54. The show runs about 95 minutes with no intermission.