Letters of love and hate.

The English Theatre in Rome is staging two productions featuring the art of letter writing. Address Unknown tells of the correspondence between two German men one of whom is Jewish between 1932 and 1934. The two run an art gallery in San Francisco before one returns to live in Germany, and it is at this point that the exchange of letters begins. The play has been described by one reviewer as the most effective indictment of Nazism to appear in fiction.

The work based on a short novel by American professor Katherine Kressman Taylor will be performed as a stage reading, directed by Michael Fitzpatrick.

Love Letters, directed by Jessica Hanley, is just as thought-provoking. New York playwright A.R. Gurneys piece which won the Pulitzer prize for drama in 1990 explores the relationship between a man and woman, from childhood messages to their adult exchanges.

The theatre is now casting for these plays as well as for two other productions in the pipeline for the spring: Brothers Melville by Canadian playwright Norm Foster and a work by Irish writer Brian Friel, yet to be decided. Auditions are at the theatre 24-25 Oct, 19.00-21.00; for more information englishtheatre@libero.it. Performances: Address Unknown, 26 Nov-18 Dec, Thurs and Sat 21.00, Sat matinee 18.00; Love Letters, 4-18 Dec, Fri and Sun 21.00, Sat matinee 18.00. The English Theatre in Rome, Teatro lArciluito, Piazza Montevecchio 5.

Comedy is all in a Days work

Stand-up comedian Steve Day says he is determined not to make the same mistake when he returns to Rome in November.

Ive only visited once before, in 2000, when the cruise ship I was performing on docked at Civitavecchia and I took the shore excursion. I did the normal tourist thing of trying to see everything in one afternoon and ended up getting hot, exhausted and overexposed to monuments. The coin in the fountain thing seems to have worked, though.

The sightseeing is a welcome bonus but the real reason for Days visit is to bring his acclaimed show Deaf in the Evening to the English Theatre in Rome.

Day went deaf in his mid-teens and has lost about 70 per cent of his hearing. He is, he claims, the only deaf stand-up comic in the United Kingdom, adding wryly that if theres another, I havent heard.

Days visit to Rome coincides with a growing reputation; he has been performing across the United Kingdom, including a stint at this years Edinburgh Festival. He has also established himself as a regular voice on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4.

Deafness is sort of the theme of this show but the comedy is, like most comedy, about my own and other peoples stupidity, pomposity and generally being a bit thick. My target audience is everyone, there isnt anything youd need to be deaf to understand.

Day grew up in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, and worked for 13 hated years as a computer programmer before taking up comedy full-time. He said: It will be lovely to be in Rome again. Unfortunately my Italian is not bella. Although I can do the gesticulation I cant hear the words. Before I went deaf I used to listen to opera so I might be okay singing Che Gelida Manina and La Donna Mobile.

Deaf in the Evening, 17-19 Nov at 21.00. 15, reduced 12. English Theatre in Rome, Teatro LArciliuto, Piazza Montevecchio 5. For more information and to book tel. 066879419 (after 16.00) or email: englishtheatre@libero.it.