27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams

In 1930s, post-recession Mississippi, a young woman’s husband returns home following the outbreak of a fire at a nearby cotton gin; suddenly, a huge workload lands right in his lap. Do two wrongs make a right? Someone clearly seems to think so. Fox and Hound Theatre company are to be applauded for this powerful production, which directly wrestles with the issues of rape, abuse and mental health.

Harrowing and ever-relevant: classic Tennessee Williams

The unquestionably highlight has to be Helen Fox’s Flora Meighan. Fox gives a brave, professional, and extremely moving performance; so immersed in the character that even during her bow she clearly struggled to smile. Her piteous Flora is complemented by Codge Crawford’s vile Jake Meighan and Stephen Caruthers’ truly disgusting Silva Vicar - both are disturbingly believable. A very strong cast indeed.

In contrast to the rest of the production, the sound clips involved are fairly mediocre – the recorded voices used towards the beginning become quite jarring and strange. Though disappointing, this was easily forgiven as the play got going. The space lent itself well to the very simple staging, with absolutely no more than was necessary, and intense lighting enhanced the uncomfortable action onstage. The actors made the most of the space: the scene was convincingly naturalistic yet still extremely dynamic and engaging. All this was accompanied by a brilliant wardrobe that was utterly on point, even down to tiny details such as the filth on Silva’s forearm. Well thought through, and very authentic.

This play was certainly gripping throughout; my attention did not waver even for a second. Perfect for both Williams’ fan or newbie, the script is faultless and the actors do not disappoint. This is a truly compelling piece of theatre - I booked tickets for the company’s other Fringe production at the first opportunity! 

Reviews by Charlotte Ferguson

Greenside @ Infirmary Street

27 Wagons Full of Cotton by Tennessee Williams

★★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

In Utero

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

In 1930s Mississippi a cotton gin mysteriously burns down. In desperate financial times it appears that the rules of business are different. Do two wrongs make a right? A dysfunctional relationship centres this disturbing look at abuse and how one woman may find a silver lining in a desperate situation. This play deals with the social and economic climate of a country coming out of recession, and transcends this with the still relevant issues of mental health, domestic abuse and rape. ‘Seemingly fragile people are the strong people really.’ Classic Tennessee Williams.