(Ben Brantley’s article appeared in The New York Times, 12/10.)
“I seem to spend my life missing you,” Robert Lowell wrote to Elizabeth Bishop, many years after the long and intimate friendship between these two great American poets began. In another letter he sadly observed, “We seem attached to each other by some stiff piece of wire, so that each time one moves, the other moves in another direction.”
The geographical distance between them, breached only rarely during their sometimes tumultuous lives, was a deeply felt burden to both — if perhaps occasionally a blessing, too. But it left behind a great literary treasure: more than 400 letters that they exchanged as their careers and lives blossomed, faltered, foundered, almost fell apart, then blossomed anew. The playwright Sarah Ruhl has distilled from their voluminous correspondence a concise selection to create “Dear Elizabeth,” an epistolary play that is having its premiere at the Yale Repertory Theater here.