Monday, February 29, 2016

A Rare Look At Two Late Tennessee Williams Plays - Produced by Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company at Walkerspace, 46 Walker Street, TriBeCa

Jade Ziane as Mint
Kate Skinner as Mme. Le Monde
"The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde"
Tennessee Williams 1982
The Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company
Walkerspace, 46 Walker Street, TriBeCa
Through March 13th

Even if you are an ardent fan of the works of Tennessee Williams, I would be willing to bet that you have not seen productions of the two one-act plays that are running through March 13 at Walkerspace in TriBeCa.  Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company is offering a provocative pairing of two one-act plays under the umbrella title of "Tennessee Williams 1982."  In that year, Williams wrote "A Recluse And His Guest," as well as "The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde."  This is a World Premiere for "Recluse" and a New York Premiere for "Rooming-House."

These late plays by Williams have generally not fared well in critical evaluation as they are compared with his well know masterpieces. Romanian born Director Cosmin Chivu has championed the rehabilitation and re-evaluation of these plays, and it is under his creative direction that these two plays appear now in New York.  Scenic Designer Justin West has created an adaptable space that serves both plays.  The design fits as the home of the eponymous recluse in the first play, and also captures the wild ethos of a Punked-out group of Londoners.  Lighting by John Eckert and flamboyant Costumes by Angela Wendt set the right tone, as does original music by Paul Brantley.

"A Recluse And His Guest" tells the bizarre Scandanavian tale of a hermit who inexplicably takes in an outcast woman, offers her safe haven and even affection, and then throws her back out into the cold.  "The Remarkable Rooming-House of Mme. Le Monde" is a black comedy, Mint(Jade Ziane), a disabled young man is being kept in the attic of Mme. Le Monde's (Kate Skinner) establishment.  He is being sexually abused by the Madame's son (Declan Eells), and is visited by a former schoolmate, Hall (Patrick Darwin Williams).  Hall is apparently a former adolescent lover of Mint, but is now a very high priced sex worker, and avers that Mint cannot afford him.  Hall spends much of his visit verbally abusing the young man, until Mme. Le Monde appears and escalates the action to an unexpected level. Because of his paralysis, Mint gets around the attic loft by hooking himself into a series of hanging loops that look like mini-nooses. The physicality of Mr. Ziane in negotiating this obstacle course is one of the delights of this production.  In his more well-known works, Williams has certainly dealt with complex issues of sexuality and neurosis, but in this play, he throws all restraint to the wind and offers an outrageous narrative arc that is shocking and nihilistic.

In addition to the actors that make up the cast of "Rooming-House," "Recluse" also features Anne Wechsler, Beau Allen and Ford Austin.

If you are a fan of the work of Tennessee Williams or a student of the history of theater, you will not want to miss this rare sighting of two rare birds from Williams' creative nest.  "Tennessee Williams 1982" will run through March 13.

Playhouse Creatures Theatre Company Website



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