3BUGS Fringe Theatre presents a rare production of Tennessee Williams' one-act play The Pink Bedroom as part of their Morning After Season with fairly limited success. The play centres on the fraying relationship between a Man, played by Hal Geller, and a Woman, played by Clare Dodkins, who are conducting an extramarital affair. It's an emotionally unbalanced play, with moments of violence interrupted by long silences.
The Pink Bedroom is awash with awkward silences. Don't get me wrong, there can be good awkward silences in theatre. However, anyone who knows anything of Williams will know that his silences are heaped with meaning. A world of feeling can be conveyed in a Williams silence - pain, grief, passion, anticipation. Sadly, the silences shared between Geller and Dodkins were more indicative of the fact that they were either trying to remember the next line or counting to ten.
The best acting to be had in this production was from Geller and David Williams - who portrayed a younger man for a single scene - in pretending that the numerous punches they receive from Dodkins didn't hurt. I expect they will be black and blue by the end of their run. This production would have benefited from further exploration into the relationship portrayed and from further rehearsal. The acting needed as much ironing out as the crushed costumes. Let's face it - no 1930’s businessman wears trousers that have clearly been balled up at the bottom of a suitcase for a month.
It is difficult to pin down what the problem with the acting really is. For all intents and purposes, Geller and Dodkins do pretty convincing renditions of lustful ‘lump of flesh’ and woman scorned. Yet the whole affair - long silences, juxtaposed violently with sequences of shouting and long kisses, lack feeling. They are simply going through the motions.
For an early show The Pink Bedroom had a pretty good turnout - probably because the thought of a seldom-performed Williams play has even the vaguest of fans champing at the bit. However the main problem with this production is that 3BUGS have been far too ambitious in attempting to drag out a one-act play, which has been described previously as ‘not a play in any real sense’ and which could be performed in fifteen minutes, into a 45-minute show. The skills of Geller and Dodkins would be better served by a play written by a less-beloved playwright. A valiant attempt but not an out-and-out success.