SALT LAKE CITY — Letters to My Mom is a moving and raw message from daughter to mother that blatantly displays intimate conversations that are relatable, vulnerable, and honest. Written and performed by Salt Lake local Merry Magee, Letters to My Mom puts the audience inside of a personal conversation that inspires an emotional response and self-reflection.
This production begins with Magee as a massage therapist readying for a client while alluding to a car accident. After Magee’s client arrives, she performs massage therapy on stage while on the screen in the background a series of raw and organic conversations with her mother are presented. Between on screen scenes, images of nature are shown, and themes of nature and healing are prevalent throughout the show.
The filmed mother-daughter conversations were stripped down and realistic, naturally set on the sofa with sounds of television in the background. The daughter questions her mother and criticizes her criticism, voices feeling like a burden, and expresses the weight of depression. The acting was exceptionally genuine, and it felt like a window to deep and painful conversations people often want to have but do not have the courage to. I commend Magee for putting her feelings of abandonment so candidly into her writing and performing with such unbridled vulnerability.
While I enjoyed the intimate glimpse into the mother-daughter exchange and found it was acted wonderfully, I question the choice to show this intimacy through film, rather than live. I can appreciate the effect of having layers and showing the on-stage action in addition to on screen happenings, but I missed the added potency that comes from a live performance especially considering the depth of the topic. Also, I was not sure how the car accident allusions from the beginning and sprinkled throughout the filmed conversations were relevant. I did not understand what I was supposed to glean from that information.
Letters to My Mom is well written and acted with powerfully relatable content for women. Heartrending and thought provoking, I left this production feeling introspective and understood and while heavy and somber, the true message of this play is of love and forgiveness.