Lip syncs, camp comedy and poignancy abound in Will Jackson’s brilliant one-man show, now touring
Reviewed by Alex Fice
Inspired by real life events, Yours Sincerely follows Will Jackson in the months after he accidentally acquires 300 second class stamps from the post office. To get rid of the evidence, he decides to send letters to everyone and anyone, from estranged university friends and childhood crushes to former employers and the marketing department at John Lewis. At a first glance, it’s a hilarious coming-of-age comedy about the complications of 21st-century communication; dig a bit deeper and themes of isolation and vulnerability begin to emerge, holding up a mirror to the challenging times society has faced over the last two years.
For a one-man show, Yours Sincerely boasts an impressive cast of characters that we get to meet through Will’s correspondences using his illicit stamps: one recurring figure is Will’s best friend from university, Kat, who is settling into life in London with her new girlfriend and navigating the nightmare of teaching primary school children. Then there’s Kamal, an old flame with ulterior motives involving a tryst and a Luigi costume, putting Will’s dubious career choices in jeopardy. Will also adopts several aliases, such as nine-year-old Sam, who feels compelled to write a letter of complaint to Cadbury’s demanding a refund after the discovery of a finger in his chocolate buttons. Proving himself a master of impersonation and comedic timing, Will captures the spirit of these characters to a T – many of them you will have encountered in your own life, be it in person or in written form.
There are some fantastic strokes of genius peppered throughout the sixty-minute show, with one highlight centring on an epic proposal for John Lewis’s next Christmas ad from our friend Sam, the Cadburys cadger, which features a tragic love story involving a non-binary clownfish. The finale is as baffling as it is impressive – talk about putting one’s own stamp on something. But the thing that leaves the most lasting impact is the show’s ability to veer between carefree, juvenile naughtiness to the hard-hitting realities of adult life. It touches on subjects such as men’s health, discrimination towards gay men by healthcare services, and loneliness.
The latter strikes a particularly resonant chord in the wake of the pandemic, which saw many people isolated from family and friends, boosting the need for written correspondence and attempts at ‘reaching out’. This may explain why Yours Sincerely has seen renewed interest almost five years after Will began to write the show, inspired by the letters he sent in the months after leaving university. (After all, how else was he going to shift all those stamps? And yes, he really did write to the John Lewis marketing department. Also Santa. And the Prime Minister.) Recent grads will feel that pang of unease and loss of intimacy with close uni friends keenly – but now, after multiple lockdowns, Yours Sincerely has gained a wider audience that can identify personally with the show’s emphasis on the human need to connect with others. It’s staggeringly moving when you stop to think about it; fortunately for the audience, it’s not long before Will deftly catapults the show back into lip-syncing, camp-choreo mode before things get too heavy.
Yours Sincerely is an intelligent, funny and flamboyant one-man show that will both punch you in the gut and have you howling with laughter. Get your tickets for the London leg of the tour from 14 to 19 March at Soho Theatre. You can find full tour dates on Twitter: @Will__Jackson__ | @Quick_Duck_