Peter McGarry is an experienced,
independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to
review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The
Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content
of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.
It's always a bold undertaking to tackle the
works of Tennessee Williams, a writer who was ever in a world
- and a class - of his own.
This one is even more challenging because it was not only
his breakthrough play but a piece packed with autobiographical
insight of emotional torment within a family.
The Talisman meets it head-on in John Dawson's production
which lays bare the twists and turns of fractured relationships.
There is no denying the strength and commitment of the company
even if their endeavour is occasionally a little frayed around
This is certainly not the case with Rachel Partington's subtle
and touching portrayal of the limping, insecure daughter Laura,
whose very quietness in the early scenes speaks a thousand
words about her fear and vulnerability.
Confronted at last by a representative of the outside world
which she has shunned, she slowly unravels her hang-ups in
a candlelight conversation with her gentleman caller. This
is carefully and tastefully played, with the girl's ingenuous
awakening contrasting with Martin Donaldson's effective evocation
of a one-time social flyer seeking to recapture his lost eminence.
This sequence is the key to the play and gives us Williams
at his most passionate and eloquent. Earlier he veers towards
overload with the literary-minded son Tom's discontentment
and faded Southern belle mum Amanda's obsession with gilt-edged
Joshua Pink deftly captures Tom's burning frustration within
the family circle but is less comfortable with the nuances
required for the role of narrator. Julie Godfrey's Amanda
is powerfully convincing but her ultra-loud delivery would
benefit from more vocal restraint to achieve a wider level
of tonal variation.
Above all, however, the grey intensity and underlying bitterness
of Williams's work are very well achieved, despite an irritating
tendency to project images of the long-absent father whenever
he is mentioned. A blown-up, permanently-placed photo would
be far more effective, as originally intended.