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Posts Tagged ‘Rosanna Vize’

I’ve always wondered why the late plays of Beckett, Pinter and Churchill are revered as experimental and innovative, whilst those of Tennessee Williams were greeted with contempt. This particular late play was the only TW play to have its world premiere outside the US, at this very theatre in fact (well, the previous building), in 1967. I’ve waited over a year to see this revival but it was certainly worth the wait.

Felice and Clare, brother and sister, are on tour with their theatre company, though the rest of the actors have deserted them and only half of the sets have arrived. This means The Two Character Play is the only one in their repertoire that they can perform, with stage management lighting and sound by Felice and cuts insisted upon by Clare. From here, we move between the play and the play-within-a-play in Pirandellian fashion, both as autobiographical as we’re used to from TW. It isn’t that accessible, but it is absolutely fascinating.

Sam Yates’ masterly staging benefits from a first class design from a team led by Rosanna Vise, with projections, music, sound and lighting all playing an equal part in creating this surreal theatrical world. It moves slickly between on-stage and backstage, like Noises Off with fewer characters and without the laughs! There are virtuoso performances from Zubin Varla and Kate O’Flynn, including song, dance and mime, with Varla playing piano and guitar too.

It probably means more to fans of TW like me, for whom it’s a terrific production of one of the most substantial and fascinating of the late plays. The excellent Hampstead programme was an indispensable companion too, and you don’t get to credit a programme that often these days! Thank you, Hampstead Theatre.

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