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L’Isola disabitata

The Two-Character Play

By • Off-West End
WOS Rating:
This darkly disturbing play, with elements of black comedy, is a deeply satisfying, totally engaging and enjoyable piece of theatre that shows off just how powerful and provocative Fringe theatre can be: in this intimate and intimidating space we are drawn into the post Pinter world of a brother and sister trapped by the past where, like Martha and George in Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, they enact and re-enact a traumatic event from their past from which they are unable to break free.

This rarely performed piece is a true lost classic by one of the most celebrated American dramatists of the 20th Century, Tennessee Williams, who called this his "most beautiful piece since Streetcar" and one which resonates with his own past and the descent into madness of his sister.

It is a play where reality and illusion mingle and the audience are left to attempt to disentangle, or not, the machinations of the Two Character play that the couple, a brother and sister, perform for the benefit of us – the audience. It is both surreal and sinister and the tension is tautly drawn by the director Gene David Kirk and acted out in remarkable performances by Catherine Cusack and Paul McEwan. This charismatic pair have an inner intensity and such a superb sense of timing and pace that we are transported with them on their roller coast ride and left emotionally drained.

The atmospheric lighting by Phil Hewitt and the half erected stage set, designed by Alice Walkling add to the heightening of this pitch perfect piece.

Revised and re-written twice since its original performance in 1967 – it stands out as a remarkable piece of theatre, Tennessee Williams’ cri de couer – it is an illusion within an illusion, an outcry from isolation, panic and fear yet as the opening lines tell us, "To play with fear is to play with fire. No, worse, much worse, than playing with fire. Fire has limits. But fear..."

Go along and see what your level of fear is, for this is a one-off opportunity to see Tennessee Williams like you’ve never seen him before – be amazed, be very amazed!

- Dave Jordan


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