Having received its world premiere in 1967 at the Hampstead Theatre, Tennessee Williams‘ lesser known play, The Two Character Play returns 54 years later, themes of loneliness and mental health resonant as ever.
Renowned for his intricate stage directions, Williams’ vision is realised by Rosanna Vize‘s seemingly minimal yet busy stage design, remnants of a home, reminiscent of a televisual situational drama set based centre stage, bin bags stacked on top of one another stage right and left, a sound board stage left all culminating to brilliantly capture the show’s make shift, deserted energy. We’re immediately pulled into the world of siblings Clare and Felice, a mixture of behind the scenes and onstage worlds colliding, the stage itself a crucial part of the evening.
Zubin Varla‘s Felice brilliantly switches between the astute professional to the more relaxed yet bold protagonist and Kate O’Flynn as Clare effortlessly transforms from the care free, comical performer to the more melodramatic yet demure persona, both working together expertly to heighten the show’s make shift, improvisational feel. Sam Yates direction cleverly tempers between states, observing the show’s unconventional structure. His ability to navigate the performer’s journey from them interacting behind the scenes, to them half heartedly performing their show situated in the Deep South, to them fully being immersed in the show, to them slipping back into reality is fascinating to experience and watch, the meeting point between reality and fiction indistiguishable.
Akhila Krishnan‘s video design, although a modern day adaptation proves essential to the performance, live video work deepening the show’s intensity, able to capture emotional shifts up close, the grainy presentation transporting all back to late 20th century filmic work. A complex yet entertaining evening.
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Two Character Play is currently showing at the Hampstead Theatre until Saturday 28th August. To find out more about the show, visit here…