A lovely day for theater
Sunday, April 23, 2006
by joanne rochman
Waiting for a guy's telephone call can drive some women nuts. They pace; they exercise; they eat; they try desperately to distract themselves from that ever important ring. Tennessee Williams must have had a direct line to women's hearts when he tapped in to that "When will he call" purgatory. With a play full of women, he starts things off in "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" with a woman in love waiting for that darn phone call. What comes instead makes for unique Williams' entertainment.
"A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur" is considered one of Williams' minor works. The play, rarely produced, focuses on four women - none of whom are as dramatic as Blanche DuBois, Maggie the Cat, Amanda, or Laura. However, put four of Williams' women in one room and you can bet that something is going to happen, especially when one of the women rips out an engagement announcement from the society pages of the local newspaper.
In this one-act, no intermission play, Williams brings together a kind-hearted woman, Bodey (Carlin Glynn); a grieving woman, Miss Gluck (Jayne Taini); a betrayed woman, Dorothea (Analee Jefferies); and a snake of a woman, Helena (Joan van Ark). Director Michael Wilson casts outstanding actors in these pivotal roles and then lets the interaction light up his stage. These women are distinctly Williams and as colorful and lively as the Creve Coeur amusement park where a picnic outing is planned. While the play is minor, the women share one major Williams characteristic - loneliness.
Dorothea is a schoolteacher who has a crush on the school principal. He has led her on and, unknown to her, is engaged to a high society gal. His long awaited phone call never comes. Bodey is Dorothea's kind-hearted roommate. She wants to fix up her twin brother with Dorothea at the Sunday picnic. Helena, a snake of a woman, wants Dorothea to share expenses and room with her in an upscale apartment. And then there is Miss Gluck, an obese woman distraught over the recent loss of her mother.
All four women convey Williams' loneliness. And they all deal with it differently.
Annalee Jefferies is the fit as a fiddle Dorothea. A hundred sit-ups a day is only part of Dorothea's daily plan and Jefferies makes the workout look effortless. Filled with romantic dreams and illusions, Dorothea quickly turns into a realist when her lover proves false. Joan van Ark is decked out in a smart, expensive pink suit and a plumed hat, but she might as well have been wearing snakeskin for her portrayal of a viperous conniving woman.
Carlin Glynn plays the helpful friend with convincing sensitivity, and Jayne Taini as the bereaved daughter is as garish as she is pitiable. This first rate female ensemble captures Williams' poetic spirit.
Jeff Cowie's apartment house created by suspended windows and doors rising ever higher floor by floor and ultimately suggesting a veritable Ferris wheel ranks among the memorable sets for this state of the art theater. John Gromada's sound effects and David C. Woolard's costumes reflect each character's nature. Even though the plot is slim, director Michael Williams turns a minor Williams play into a major Hartford Stage production. The play runs through May 7. It's a great opportunity to see a play that is rarely staged. It's a must see for fans of Williams.
Joanne Greco Rochman welcomes comments. Contact: Jrochmanearthlink.net.