Though itís great to see fringe venues like The Bush, The Finborough and The Cock Tavern sold out, it does mean you have to plan ahead a bit more. Fresh from their giant-killing Olivier award for Best Opera Production, the enterprising Cock Tavern has a pair of Tennessee Williams world premieres, of which this is the first. It has a surreal quality also found in Camino Real. Itís a play-within-a-play and even though I knew this, I was still surprised when Ďthe directorí got up from his seat to my left and Ďthe writerí joined in from the back. The play within concerns a couple in a New Orleans apartment; he an over-sexed philanderer employed by gangsters and her a sometime fashion designer and serial victim. The play is stopped by the actors questioning dialogue and action which is when the writer, director and stage manager get involved. Iím not really sure what TW was getting at in this short 70-minute one-acter, but it was intriguing and watchable. Itís all very Pirandellian (the Italian playwright is even referenced by TW in the play). The situation and dialogue were more explicit and racier than his norm, showing how he might have developed had he been writing beyond this late piece from the early 70′s. In many ways, it provides a missing link in the line of American drama from TW to Shepherd and Mamet.
Physically semi-naked and emotionally naked, Lewis Hayes and Shelley Lang do very well in making the play withinís characters believable in the intimacy of this tiny theatre. Hamish MacDougallís direction makes excellent use of the space and manages to balance the real with the surreal and the plays within and without.
Well worth a trip to Kilburn, but itís probably now sold out!
- Gareth James
20 Mar 11
A departure from Williams' usual as it's a play within a play, this one boasts a couple of really good performances in the female lead and the playwright. The slipping in and out of character adds to the humour, it's delusion, madness and the inability to get away. Excellent direction. - kilburncat
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