Saturday, January 13, 2007

Suddenly Last Summer

This isn't top-drawer Williams - it's a lurid melodrama that risks turning into howling camp at any moment - but in the right hands it has punch and it can be a fun vehicle for the right actors. These aren't the right hands, and most of these actors are playing it on tiptoes, like it's high drama. Blythe Danner is one of our best stage actresses, but she's all wrong for Mrs. Venable: she's busy mining the text to create a naturalistic portrait, when what we want to see is a crushing, larger-than-life manipulator. The role of Dr. Cukrowicz is usually a thankless one, but surely it can stand more personality than Gale Harold brings to it. The best thing about this production is Carla Gugino - not a surprise, as she was also the best thing about Michael Mayer's disastrous revival of After The Fall a couple of seasons back. She's radiant and exciting, able to be iron-willed and vulnerable at the same time, and she can put Williams' florid hothouse dialogue across without worshipping it.

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