Archikulture Digest

An Evening of Tennessee Williams

An Evening of Tennessee Williams

Written by Tennessee Williams

Directed by Karen Castell and Paxton McCraghren

Queens Head Theatre, Winter Park FL</strong>

There were three short plays scheduled tonight, but one cancelled and it’s not clear if it will return for this run. But what did cross the stage was intriguing and worth the trip to the far reaches of Winter Park. The opening performance is Tennessee Williams the little known “Portrait of a Madonna”. Written prior to William’s famous “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” it feels like a character study for the faded Blanche DuBois. Melody Carson is the semi-coherent Lucretia Collins, once a southern belle and now living in subsidized apartment. Her landlord (Rick Burroughs) would like to move her out, clean it up and populate it with someone sane. In her past life Lucretia courted a boy who found a better and more willing deal, now her virginity rests in her tupelo filled mind but the still young man sneaks in at night to “indulge his senses”. It may be an imaginary lover, but the church ladies would be so shocked to hear about it. People never coupled in the south, or so the righteous wish to believe and it’s a wonder the south stayed populated. The Porter (John Kelly) and the Elevator Boy (Jay Glass) come up to mind her until the crazy wagon arrives, and that’s where her beautiful dream comes to an end.

Act two was much darker and even more obscure. “The Chalky White Substance” never saw light until after William’s death: this post-apocalyptic love story between Mark, the Protector (McCraghren) and the young man Luke (BeeJay Clinton). The world is dry and dusty, all the women have disappeared, and what life there is labors under tight control from “The Regime.” The pair meets and Mark wonders how Luke keeps his soft, boyish skin, and when that ancient beauty secret is revealed any feeling between the pair collapse for short term gain. McCraghren is especially creepy in his monks cowl; his face concealed and lit to look metallic bronze and his laugh midnight movie creepy. The story is not unusual by sci-fi standards and there’s a good deal of “tell don’t show” but it’s still made you wince at the end. I really liked the lighting, the blue wash turned deep red whenever I blinked. Not you standard southern decay in this little gem.

For more information on the Queen’s Head Theatre, please visit www.queensheadtheatre.com

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