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I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark On Sundays

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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This jewel of a one-acter, set in 1970, is a play-within-a-play. The stage action portrays a couple in the throws of a destructive crisis. Both are drifters, and she makes a thwarted attempt to escape squalor and under-achievement. Off-stage, the Playwright, Director and Stage Manager have artistic disagreements, with input from the disgruntled actors.

Lewis Hayes as Tye - one half of the crisis-hit couple - captures the stolid, ignorant nature of the character. However, he does not make him sympathetic enough for us to fathom why his more educated girlfriend is so drawn to him. Moreover, he struggles to pull off a Southern accent, while his body language is awkward.

Shelley Lang, as Jane, is a suitably highly-strung New Yorker but her relentless breathiness becomes distracting, and her committed performance would gain from added depth. Sadly, in spite of the sexual content of the play, there is little chemistry between the leads, and not enough genuine, visceral emotion.

Graham Dickson makes a slightly exaggerated but nonetheless delightfully funny camp stage manager Hilary. Cameron Harris' cameo as the Director is perfectly timed and highly entertaining. He provides an exquisite cerebral counterfoil to the earthy Playwright, perfectly played by Keith Myers, whose comic timing is impeccable and whose final scene, in which he gives the play its true meaning, is simply magical. Myers' sincerity catches you unawares, and is deeply poignant.

Director Hamish MacDougall makes imaginative use of the stage and non-stage areas, and keeps a tight grip on the pace. Although the production would benefit from more languor and sensuality, it must be commended for bringing us the world premiere of this unquestionable Tennessee Williams gem, which is just one part of a centenary season.

- Katherine Gregor


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