Friday, April 18, 2008

CAMINO REAL: The Least Liked, Most Controversial Tennessee Williams Play

Want to see the play that brought Tennessee Williams the thickest, richest waves of dislike and dismay? There are still two performances available on Saturday April 19 (2 pm matinée and 8 pm evening) of CAMINO REAL, a lush, intense, surreal drama staged at the Theater in Riverside Church and directed by Tony Speciale. I caught the opening night on Wednesday and am still amazed. A deceptively ordinary stage setting evokes a Spanish village square; from there, the complications multiply.

A pre-curtain conversation with dramaturge Heather Denyer clued me in to some of the complexity that would unfold but didn't really prepare me for how stunned I'd feel by the first intermission. Denyer noted that it's the most personal of the Williams plays and took seven years to write, then was endlessly revised; with Speciale and the rest of the directing and acting team, Denyer tried to track down some of the reasons for the revisions, in order to settle on which version to stage. She wrote for the program, "More than anything, the play dealt frankly with the reality of the time when he was writing, between his conception of it in 1945, to its Broadway premiere in 1953: not long after the American soldiers returned or didn't from World War II; shortly after Kinsey shook the nation with his sexual study findings, and in the year after director Elia Kazan testified at the McCarthy Trials." Denyer emphasized that the production is especially vivid when placed in our own time of war and terror. I agree. If I lived closer, I'd go see this version again.

Tickets are a mere $15 each (seniors $5, students with ID free) for this Actors Equity Showcase production. Info and tickets:

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