Theater: The Last of the Love Letters
Written by Ngozi Anyanwu
After 18 months, it sure feels great to be back in a real NYC theater again. Even though the off-Broadway play “Last of the Love Letters” is a bit of an odd duck.
Written by Ngozi Anyanwu (“The Homecoming Queen”) who also plays one of the characters, the play, as the notes tell us, is the story of a couple’s breakup. The woman tells her side of the story first, but when Daniel J. Watts as the man takes the stage, all hell breaks loose.
Playgoers in the before-times who saw “Tina: The Musical on Broadway” may remember Watts playing Ike Turner, a performance so galvanizing he was nominated for an Emmy. We didn’t see it, so we were unprepared for what we saw tonight. As in totally unprepared.
Watts is a force of nature—a lithe, hyperkinetic combination of Robin Williams and Gregory Hines. He seems possessed. He rants, he raves, he laughs, he makes you laugh, he rips the sheets off a bed, he does chin-ups to expend all that extra energy, and paints a picture of an obsessive relationship with his ex.
There have been two instances when I’ve seen a particular actor and thought, “This person is going right to the top.” The first time was Meryl Streep in 1977; the second time was Timothee Chalomet in 2015. Daniel J. Watts is the third.
Better hurry if you want to catch him in LOTLL. Or if you prefer, wait for him to return to “Tina” in a few months. Either way, you’d be mad to miss him.