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Posts Tagged ‘Joseph Drake’

A rare Tennessee Williams for this somewhat muted centenary year and one of the most in-your-face shows I’ve ever been to; I left exhausted.

It’s a late play with nothing like the power of his classics, but better than many of his late plays. It’s a three-hander with all the usual TW themes and trademarks. Sick brother (clearly gay, but unsaid) on his last legs returns to family home with recent bride (who he met and married on TV in a day!). Before he left, following the death of his mother (they were devoted to each other), he willed the family home to his neanderthal mixed race half-brother. The marriage is a threat to neanderthal man, it has yet to be consummated and husband is now outed as cross-dresser (as his mother!). There’s sexual tension between neanderthal man and sexually frustrated new wife, who flaunts herself in her showbiz outfits. This is all against the backdrop of an imminent flood in the Mississippi Delta. It’s a bit TW-by-numbers, so you can fill in the rest yourself.

The set is extraordinary (designer Ruth Sutcliffe), with a giant mound of earth reaching to the ceiling and dominating the room (as it started, my companion said ‘are you sure it’s not Beckett?!), but I’m not sure such an impressionistic setting serves the play well. The acting is appropriately ‘OTT Deep South’, but is occasionally pushed too far, particularly by Joseph Drake (though in all fairness his is a tough role to get right). David Stursazker was particularly impressive as half-brother Chicken and Fiona Glascott did well to balance Myrtle’s absurdity with her humanity.

I really did find it too in-your-face; it prevents you from engaging with the characters and their stories, erases whatever realism existed and makes the experience of watching the play somewhat overpowering and uncomfortable – but maybe that’s what director Lucy Bailey intended. My companion was clearly having a dreadful time, which made me reflect that you’re better off in the theatre on your own when you’re experience isn’t contaminated by someone else’s experience.

The Print Room is a  good new venue (though a bit of a schlep for those of us with SW postcodes) and as a TW fan, it was good to catch up with the play.

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