For lovers of Tennessee Williams and anyone who appreciates good theatre the double bill of
That they do so with such accomplishment is a tribute to their dedication, devotion, professionalism and talent.
In Ivan’s Widow a delusional woman in denial about her husband’s death turns to a psychiatrist and a hip flask of whisky for help and comfort as she struggles to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Initially giving the appearance of genuine concern for his client, the psychiatrist becomes increasingly promiscuous and predatory and a cloud of unprofessional conduct begins to hover over him; or are we just seeing what she imagines? The functional set of his drab office suggests his possibly seedy motives and careful delineation of scenes through a repeated lighting motif marks the progression of the plot.
The set is then efficiently and effectively changed to form the next couple’s lifeless bedsit. Set in the heavy days of the Great Depression, Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen captures the dreary existence of a couple trapped in economic and emotional hopelessness. Their life indoors is as dreary as the weather outside, but she is able to dream of another life for herself while he just lies back and listens to her fantasies.
Codge Crawford and Helen Fox, who play the male and female roles in both plays, must surely be carving out a niche for themselves as accomplished interpreters of Williams. Their performances here are disciplined, restrained, melancholic and captivating. They possess a sense of comfort and confidence with the dialogue along with a clear desire to perform as honestly as possible what the great man intended. In choosing these minor works they take risks. These are not great plays from Williams’ best years, and their limited duration pose difficulties in building up depth of character, yet they remain a vital part of his repertoire and these two actors extract all they can from the scripts.
The opportunity to see these plays does not come around very often and the company performs a service to the theatre by presenting them. That they do so with such accomplishment is a tribute to their dedication, devotion, professionalism and talent.