Posts Tagged ‘Drayton Arms’

TENN refers to Tennessee Williams and Four is the number of short plays that make up this evening, none of which I’ve seen before – but that’s hardly surprising given he wrote over 70! What makes these four particularly interesting is that two of them were the source of two of his biggest hits.

The Pretty Trap is a precursor of The Glass Menagerie. The four characters are the same, but young Laura doesn’t have a disability or a collection of glass animals. In other respects it really does feel like a miniature of the later play. In Our Profession is a quirky piece which centres on actress Annabel who has only known Richard for a couple of days but expects lifelong commitment. He gets neighbour Paul to gatecrash to take the pressure off him, but Annabel then makes a move on Paul with a more positive outcome, before Richard calls for further reinforcements. This was the shortest but great fun.

Interior : Panic is the genesis of A Streetcar Named Desire, though here Stanley is Jack and Stella is Grace. It’s like a compressed version of the full play, with all the core story and ingredients. In fact, it made you wonder if the later version had more than a bit of padding! The Case of the Crushed Petunia is another quirky piece about a shopkeeper distraught at the damage to her flower-beds, which leads to an absurd turn of events. It developed an unpredictability which I very much liked as it became ever more surreal.

They fit rather well together and provide a fascinating insight into early TW. They were all written between 1939, just three years after his first play, and 1945, a year after The Glass Menagerie was a full length hit and two years before Streetcar repeated the success. Here they are well staged with just period props effectively conveying period and location. Six actors share all of the roles, each playing in two or three plays, with three directors sharing staging duties and design.

A must for TW fans.

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