“A Night of Tennessee Williams” Offers Exciting Viewer Experience
By: Cynthia Zaragoza
September’s opening of three of Tennessee Williams’ one act plays begins with The Long Goodbye directed by William Swift.
Ryan Stoll plays Joe, a writer, who’s transitioning into the next stage of his young adult life. Brandon Baker immediately joins Stroll on stage as his close friend. Baker is able to interject comedic relief and emotional support throughout a play that can sometimes feel too melancholy.
Both friends contemplate Joe’s future and revisit the memories of his family as he waits for movers to reallocate what’s left of his family’s home. Joe’s move sparks memories of his family’s affairs which are told throughout the play in flashbacks. The elements that went into creating the flashbacks were seamlessly woven throughout the play.
“My favorite part was how they did the time lapse,” audience member Nour Hussein said. “It really sucked you in, you were in it completely and you get to see it built up to see his life.”
Throughout Joe’s memories Ryan Stoll impressively expresses sincerity and concern for his family: his anxiety as caretaker for his mother and protector to his sister.
In The Strangest Kind of Romance, directed by Savannah Coleman, Kolton Noreen plays the Little Man, a new tenant whose loneliness and attachment to a wandering cat lead him to reveal his alienation from the world.
Noreen’s demeanor expresses his character’s vulnerability and meek attitude. When he’s seduced by his landlady, played by Avery Rogers, we understand his fight to make others grasp that he thinks of himself as peculiar and unlike other people. He finds comfort in a cat and expresses his kindness to this one other being. Although the play sometimes leaves audiences a little puzzled, the actors stay true to their interpretation of their characters.
In Auto-Da-Fe, directed by Noah Kopit, Alejandra Navarro cleverly portrays Madam Duvenet, an overbearing mother. Eric Oden plays Eloi, pronounced Ell-wah, a sexually repressed mailman who becomes unnerved when he’s driven to keep a secret from his mother.
Oden is able to translate the awkwardness and paranoia of a man governed by his mother. Navarro embodies mothers of today who overschedule and coddle their children.
Audience member Aimee Rodriguez reflects that the character “definitely seemed overbearing and caring at the same time.”
The performance was a tug and pull between mother and son and left audience members like for a loop.
“The end definitely triggered so much emotion…I didn’t expect that at all,” Rodriguez said.
Each play has noteworthy actors portraying characters sometimes more than twice their age. In The Long Goodbye, Hailee Williams plays the deceased mother to Joe. At times she seems to be portraying the role somewhat artificially, but as her performance goes on her attitude aligns with the character’s feeling of pain and fear.
Brock Boudoin’s intense portrayal of The Old Man in The Strangest Kind of Romance captures the audience’s attention as he tries to guide the Little Man and vindicate himself.
In Auto-Da-Fe, Navarro is able to depict a domineering mother whose best intentions leave her son adrift. Navarro’s insistence and omnipresent attitude are so genuine that her portrayal of Madam Duvenet is able to skew oppressiveness into concern.
A Night of Tennessee Williams provides a variety of his plays in which an audience member will be able to connect to a character or a play.
“I liked that it was a collection of Tennessee Williams, just because…I’ve seen maybe one or two of his shows, but…having it all together was really nice just to see what kind of writer he was,” audience member Sophia Woodward said.