Past event

Alexandra Palace Theatre, 2018

4 December 2018

On the evening of December 4th, having sold out shows in Los Angeles, New York, Hay on Wye, Venice and London, Letters Live closed 2018 in spectacular style with a one-off performance in London’s Oldest New Theatre.


Opened in 1875, Alexandra Palace Theatre was a home for spectacle and wonder. A marvel of Victorian engineering, its stage allowed actors to disappear and fly. Now, after 80 years of slumber, something’s stirring at Ally Pally.


The show had an all-star cast consisting of Chiwetel Ejiofor, Joely Richardson, Alison Steadman, Louise Brealey, Celia Imrie, Clarke Peters, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jordan Stephens, Simon Callow and Paul Ryan, with musical performances from Tom Odell.


Act 1 opened with Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reading a letter of her own, penned in 2007 as part of an anthology of new love letters entitled Four Letter Word. Chiwetel Ejiofor made his Letters Live debut reading a letter from Barack Obama to his daughters speaking of his pride for them. His final letter of the show was from John Steinbeck, delivering a timely commentary on the abundance of consumption. Also to take to the stage was Letters Live newcomer Joely Richardson, who read letters by Laura Dern, Paris Lees and Katherine Mansfield.


Tom Odell performed music throughout the evening and closed the show with the festive classic, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.


The night was in aid of Crisis at Christmas, ensuring homeless people across the country have a place to go and a meal to eat this Christmas. The donations made through this event enabled the charity to provide people with a Christmas dinner, a bed for the night, a chance to shower, freshen up and get clean clothes, a health check and treatment from a doctor, optician and dentist, expert help with mental health and addiction problems, advice on housing, employment and benefits, and a way out of homelessness for good through Crisis’ year-round training, education and support.


Tuesday, 4th December 2018


Alison Steadman

Enough is enough

Marguerite Louise D’Orleans to Cosimon III De Medici

I see you, my beauty boy

Elizabeth Taylor to Her Missing Cat



Alison Steadman and Simon Callow

It was hard to give five sons to the navy

Alleta Sullivan to Franklin Roosevelt



Celia Imrie

Know that you are loved

Dorothy Freeman to Rachel Carson

He is a lazy, ungrateful, loafing scoundrel

Sarah Jones to Stamford Advocate



Celia Imrie and Alison Steadman

You Babylonian scullion

Mehmed IV to Zaporozhain Cossacks



Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As we wait in joyful hope

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie to Emeka



Chiwetel Ejiofor


Thomas Pendleton to Various

I am so proud of both of you

Barack Obama to Sasha and Malia

A strange species we are

John Steinbeck to Adlai Stevenson



Clarke Peters

For your first Christmas

Walter Page to His Grandson

The Zombie

Robert Southey to Grosvenor Bedford



Joely Richardson

This is not a letter

Katherine Mansfield to Leslie Beauchamp

Oh Father

Paris Lees to Her Father

The story comes from within you

Laura Dern to Her Daughter



Jordan Stephens

Picture the scene

Rik Mayall to Bob Geldof



Louise Brealey

Your ever loving daughter

Louisa May Alcott to Her Mother

The sacrifice is not in vain

Maude Fisher to Mrs. Hogan

We did it, Mother!

Gertrude Ederle to Her Mum



Noel Fielding

Composer for nitwits

Erik Satie to Jean Poueigh



Simon Callow

Christmas with all its ancient horrors

Raymond Chandler to Jamie Hamilton

The greatest musical pleasure

Charles Baudelaire to Richard Wagner