14 September 2009

A House Not Meant to Stand
by Tennessee Williams (Rehearsed Reading)

Cornelius McCorkle - Alun Armstrong
Stage Directions/2nd Man from Foley's/Officer/Ghostly Black Voice/Dr Crane - Obi Abili
Stacey/Young Joanie - Felicity Jones
Emmerson Sykes - Anton Lesser
Charlie McCorkle/Young Charlie - Tom Riley
Bella McCorkle - Alison Steadman
1st Man from Foley's/Officer Bruce Lee "Pee Wee" Jackson/Apparition/Young Chips - Tim Steed
Jessie Sykes - Una Stubbs

Directed by Jamie Lloyd during the Tennessee Williams season at the Donmar Warehouse. Seen on a steamy night in a good seat for the first half & moved to a better but scarier seat for the second, so that I could sit with my friend.

Faces in the audience: Greta Scaachi, Emma Cunniffe, Tom Mison and erm....gosh, who was the wonderful fella Emma came with, anyone?

I believe this was Williams last play and yet it could have easily been one of his earliest. It was formulaic, laden with metaphor and autobiography but seemed to plod around a bit.

The central family and their friends are as mad as a bag of spanners. Anton Lesser has another crack at trying to seduce Tom Riley's wife but unlike Ms Varma, young Ms Jones has God and she has him in spades. She probably gave the performance of the night simply because she had some real meat to get her teeth into but that's not to damn anyone else.

Poor Alun and Alison had such clunking great lumps to deliver, that were hard to keep engaged with, especially when the characters are not really able to be very physical. Their lighter moments were wonderful.

Anton gave his very, very best creepy and Una, her most delicious irritating - and I make both those comments with deep love and respect. Tom was reassuringly confident, comfortingly sane and ridiculously sexy though it turns out that Tim (well, Chuck) was always the better looking brother. Tim played his PeeWee with a nice edge.

What would this production have been without Obi leaping around the place and pulling it together? Much of his task was thankless in so far as he had endless stage directions to read but he brought a freshness and comedic flair that kept it all very light..........and he even went so far as to make laugh-out-loud moment from a lack of light.

All this on a balmy evening set around the lace balcony's of Streetcar's New Orleans set. Is there a better way to spend a tenner?