Thursday, August 04, 2011

The Pretty Trap

Katharine Houghton, Loren Dunn, Robert Eli
Photo: Ben Hider

On YouTube you can find faux coming attractions that morph famous films into different genres. The Dark Knight becomes a Pixar cartoon and the Shining becomes a romantic comedy. Watching these recuts is entertaining and disorienting and an excellent reminder of the importance of context and point-of-view. Watching Tennessee Williams' short play the Pretty Trap has a similar effect.

The Pretty Trap is an early version of what would turn out to be the Glass Menagerie. Amanda, Tom, and Laura are there; the Gentleman Caller comes to visit; and familiar lines whiz by--but the one-act is just different enough to be, strangely enough, a comedy.

Amanda is somewhat likeable instead of soul-stealing, though she still sells those magazine subscriptions. Laura has no limp and is merely painfully shy, though she still drops out of business school. Tom has a relatively small role to play, though he is still a writer with the nickname "Shakespeare." Most importantly, the Gentleman Caller is not engaged to be married, leaving room for a happy ending. And, yes, there is a glass unicorn.

The Pretty Trap is not a great work of art, but it's a must-see for any Williams fan. And it is entertaining in its own right, particularly as directed by Antony Marsellis and acted by Katherine Houghton, Robert Eli, Loren Dunn, and Nisi Sturgis.

How odd and wonderful that this lightweight one-act could grow into the brilliant Glass Menagerie.

(Press tickets, 3rd row center)

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