Students react to Black Box production “Hate Mail”

Laura Belmont plays Dahlia in the 1989 inspired work, “Hate Mail.”

A comical love story that all started with a broken snow globe and a letter from an upset customer. This lovely play is a parity based on the play “Love Letters,” a play that took place in 1989. It was about two people who wrote letters to each other, but never met but fell in love. Regretting their decision to never meet. 

“Hate Mail” starts with a snowglobe, this man Preston gets it for his fiance. It shatters to pieces in shipping, making him rather upset. Sending him to send a letter to the place of establishment where he got it from demanding a refund. 

The worker Dahlia would respond by saying no refunds. Which ended up in them fighting through letters, and getting Dahlia fired. As the play goes on they continue to write letters about what is going on in life, still fighting, but as they go along they fall in love. 

The actors Laura Belmont as Dahlia, and Anthony Jones as Preston executed a well-thought-out play. Making the whole audience laugh, and gasp. You can tell that they put their whole hearts and efforts into this play. 

The tones they used, you could feel when the character was sad, upset, or happy. The facial and body expressions were all spot on, making the audience able to understand how they felt. 

While many students found the play funny, some students like Alan Baird felt a little uncomfortable when they talked about body parts and sexual acts. 

“I got uncomfortable from the play, particularly the second half.” He said. Baird is a sounding student and quite frankly did not want to come to this play. “I did not want to go to the play, I went because I wanted the event out of the way, I am glad I went.” Even though in the second half he got uncomfortable he “did enjoy the play, it was not something I had seen before.” He said. 

Other students enjoyed the show very much, many went to go see their friends. As they were either in the play or in the production of making it. Maddi Ashe, being one of those students, came to support their friend Montgomery Crane. Crane was the assistant stage manager for this play. Ashe is also a sounding student but was happy to come either way. 

“I loved the play, I loved all the twists and the great display of emotions from both leads. From the play, I gathered that even smaller productions have a lot put into them. It was a really enjoyable experience,” they said. 

Mackenzie Sturgill also enjoyed the play, loving the setup of the Black Box Theater. 

“I enjoyed the play. The intimate and close-up seating adds emotion and connection to the characters mentally. I’m not a soundings student, but many of my friends work on and we’re in this show. We came to support their work, and I just love theater. It’s always awesome to go and see the hard work our students put on display, so yes I enjoyed this show,” she said. 

Sturgel said she could not pick a favorite part, as she enjoyed the play so much. But a moment she enjoyed a lot was “Prestens character when he was a part of the cult and talking about how religion gives him such a new ‘healthier perspective,’” she said. 

Another student who is not in soundings, but just wants to help support their school was River Capell. 

“I thought the play was well done, and the two actors did incredibly well. I had wanted to come to this play since I had friends who worked on the production, but I also always wanted to support the arts in my school,” they said. 

Capell, like others, thought the set up of the show was quite intriguing. “The setup of the show was intriguing, as the actors technically never spoke – but their interactions were full of emotion and energy,” they said. 

“I think my favorite part of the show was near the end of the first act when both characters were going through interesting points in their life. I especially liked the photos of the luminous one. I took notice as well of the small details of the play and enjoyed things such as the small costume changes or sound effects. They helped to bring the show together as a whole,” Capell went on to say. The play had many small details which made the play so much better. 

At one point the character Dahlia even eats a piece of paper! Both characters did little acts that made the play come together so well. You can tell that they thought of every little thing, between the actual water they drank, the paper being eaten, the pictures shown, and the props being used. 

The light is shown and placed on only one of them at a time, making it seem like we were in that room with that one person while they read the letter. Like Capell said they were not actually talking, but just reading the letters that they would write to the other. 

But while doing so you would be able to see the person reading what they write reaction, while seeing the person receiving the letters reaction at the same time. In all, it was a great play!

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