Tennessee Williams Double: Ivan's Widow & Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen

Written by Williams in the period before his death, Fox and Hound take on two of his most difficult one act plays. Using their understanding of Williams’ intentions and writing style, the company select a traditional approach to reconstructing the harsh realities their characters are presented with, mostly retaining the audience’s attention in doing so, although occasionally making the meaning behind certain actions unclear.

the duo skillfully take on the two plays, each shining more in alternate moments but ultimately doing well in the second half to form connections with each other

Ivan’s Widow depicts an intensely wired exchange between an emotionally fragile young widow (Helen Fox) confused as to whether her husband is alive but seemingly only looking for answers in her liquor, and her demanding psychiatrist, played craftily well by Codge Crawford, whose questionable means of helping make his true intentions unclear, making for a struggle to decide exactly what both characters want from each other.

Although the dynamics between the two characters are compelling to watch, the action becomes repetitive in places, such as the times when the Widow makes a run for the door and the Psychiatrist grabs her and brings her back. It seems that the two are going around in circles, which makes the changes and revelations in the piece a little hard to adjust to, particularly the ending. Perhaps the aim was to keep the ending quite ambiguous, but the ending actions of each character were difficult to justify as they seemed completely spontaneous when looking back at how they previously behaved, though the ending of this play keeps you analysing and thinking about the characters’ every move and how they could have built up to the climactic moment.

After a short change of set, Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen begins, featuring Crawford as Man and Fox as Woman, their new characters easy to distinguish from their old ones. As the play progresses, we see a bare room holding a defeated couple, with both characters taking turns to speak their minds in a vastly emotionally complex play, which is handled brilliantly. Fox and Crawford appear to thrive when bringing out the more stripped back and vulnerable parts of Williams’ characters,

Fox doing an especially excellent job when taking on the Woman’s long monologue, which could easily have lost its charm but was told nicely, with switches between emotions that were easy to recognise.

In total, the duo skillfully take on the two plays, each shining more in alternate moments but ultimately doing well in the second half to form connections with each other. Whilst maybe lacking the detailed character development required in Ivan’s Widow, on the surface the characterisation is solid and the contexts of the plays were well understood and created on stage.

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The Blurb

1. Attempting to cope with her husband's death, the widow seeks answers from her psychiatrist, a cold, predatory and promiscuous man with a seemingly genuine concern for his patient. The widow struggles to differentiate between fantasy and reality, but whose truth is real? 2. 1930s New York and a couple find themselves in a cycle of deprivation. With ravaged appearances, the scene between them is one of eternal repetition where emotional content is worn out and they live in the acceptance of something hopelessly inalterable.

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