Sunday, February 18, 2007

Sweet Bird Of Youth


In their very intimate space and on a shoestring budget, T. Schreiber Studio has managed an absorbing, resourcefully staged revival of the Tennessee Williams drama. Although not one of Williams' best (partly because the second of the play's three acts has much that feels extraneous) there's plenty of gold to be mined in this play, especially in the first and last acts which center on the shifting power struggle between faded middle-aged film star Alexandra Del Lago and fading golden boy gone gigolo Chance Wayne. This production seems to emphasize the carnality and the drug-hazed dynamics in their early scenes and strenuously resists playing either character for easy, cynical laughs. Joanna Bayless, who plays Alexandra, is able to expertly render both the character's harrowing vulnerability and her cold, sad candor without turning her into a caricature; Eric Watson Williams could stand to make Chance a little more wily in the first act, but he's otherwise solid and renders the character's humiliations with heartbreaking clarity.


Burke said...

Loved this version of Sweet Bird, intimate and affecting. Both fragile and steely Bayless played the Princess with knowing nostalgia Eric Williams was proud and pathetic. David Donahoe's Boss Finley was uproarious. Tennessee would be proud.

Patrick Lee said...

Knowing nostalgia - I like that. There is no reason I can think of not to recommend this production of the play; once again I am impressed by the work from the folks at T. Schreiber Studio. Their Love! Valour! Compassion! a couple of seasons ago made that play's strengths more apparent to me than the Broadway version had, and last season's How I Learned To Drive made my Best of Year list.