wild at heart

18 Nov

Wild at heart  ****

A selection of short plays by Tennessee Williams

If you are a fringe venue and you want to give your actors and your audiences a good evening what do you do? You hold out a welcoming hand to the playwright of genius – Tennessee Williams. A writer who seemed to get right into the head of his characters and allows actors to give of their very best.

Some of the pieces currently at the Pentameters were written when he was very young and are mostly brief character studies – most of whom will appear later in longer plays. These are all very short but very significant and show his enormous sympathy with people in some form of emotional distress. These are just four of his over seventy one-act plays.

At Liberty introduces us to a typical Tennessee diva. An actress, Gloria (Ava Amande) who believes she belongs on Broadway but who has been infected with a fatal disease and her time is short. She still means to make the most of what life she has left and goes out drinking and dancing every night much to the distress of her mother (Victoria Kempton) who waits and worries at home for her.

Mr Paradise (Philip Gerrard) concerns a forgotten poet. His book of poems is over twenty years old and it is picked up by a young woman (Alice Ivor) who comes in search of him. She wants to resurrect him. But he believes poetry has had its day and people are more interested in guns.

Hello from Bertha is set in a red-light district of St Louis and the scene is set and ushered in with the sound of “St Louis Blues” Bertha (Sarah Dorsett) lies in bed, she is too tired to do anything. The woman who is tending her wants her to go to a hospital or at least call a doctor. She is obviously sick but there has been no prognosis. Obviously, she is mentally ill and this part allows the actress a full range of physical drama.   No wonder actors want to work in Williams.

Finally, there is Talk to me like the Rain and Let me Listen. Brad Johnson and Alice Ivor play a couple who cannot communicate with each other.

These short plays are directed by Seamus Newham and most of the six actors play more than one role.

It is an unusual setting for the Pentameters, who usually excel in the elegance of their sets. John Dalton has created a feeling of poverty with its run down, dull brown with just a bed, one or two chairs and a table which get moved around in between each piece. It is played straight through without and interval and lasts about eighty minutes.

This is a brilliant resumption after a fallow period at the Pentameters and a sort time of closure. Long may it continue at this standard

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