Reading of the wartime letters between the actress Celia Johnson and her husband Peter Fleming read by their daughter, Lucy Fleming, with actor Simon Williams.
These touching and amusing letters from Celia to her husband tell of her experiences during the war – from coping with a large isolated house full of evacuated children, learning to drive a tractor, dealing with rationing, occasional holidays in Cornwall where she took to surfing, and all the while accepting offers, when she could get away, to act – for David Lean, Noel Coward, wartime propaganda films, broadcasts, all sorts, and ultimately in 1945 starring in the classic film Brief Encounter.
Peter Fleming was away for most of the war - he writes about his adventures and trials working on deception in India and the Far East. Not only are the letters highly engaging, but they also provide a fascinating historical insight into that time of true austerity and fearfulness.
“...a lovely, love filled, heart-warming evening....as welcoming and nourishing as you could possibly want...don't miss this, it's a genuine treasure.”
“I’m going to stop for a moment,” said Lucy Fleming, two minutes into Posting Letters to the Moon........ “You haven’t got your little lights turned on,” she said. And indeed the swan-neck lectern lights were not illuminating Simon’s script and she could see that he might struggle to read it easily. “Darling, I love you more and more” he replied, and lights adjusted, we continued with the show. It was a suitably touching moment for this most personal of stories.
Lucy’s parents were Peter Fleming (brother of Ian), who was engaged on military intelligence during the war, and the actress Celia Johnson, whose most famous role was as the married woman who falls in love with Trevor Howard in the film Brief Encounter. The Fleming/Johnson letters conjure very poignantly the austerity of the war years, the indomitable British spirit, and the carefully vague reports of military life in India and the Far East. What comes through most strongly is how the intricacy of family life, whether it be learning to drive a tractor, or visits to the doctor over problems with a young son’s ‘twig and berries’, sustain a marriage where the location of one spouse is largely unknown (“I might as well be posting letters to the moon”) and the location of the other is given in perfect detail.
This was a delightful evening, performed with great delicacy and humour by two seasoned professionals perched on matching stools either side of a screen, like guardians of the family images of two generations ago.
Giles Cole Garrick Club June 2018
The exchanges reminded us of the hardships of war and the enduring strength of the human spirit to get though such adversity, which they did fortified by mutual encouragement, deep love and respect for each other. We must thank Lucy, whose looks and voice strongly resemble her mother, and her family for sharing these treasured writings with us.
Wiltshire Gazette and Herald June 19th 2018