Posts Tagged ‘Tom Varey’

In yet another co-incidence, it seems to be the week for stage adaptations of unproduced screenplays by America’s great 20th century playwrights and first up its Tennessee Williams.

This actually started as a short story in the mid-40s. He returned to it twenty years later to produce a screenplay, but given the subject matter it’s no surprise that Hollywood had no appetite for it, even though by now he was a theatrical giant. The stage adaptation was first performed another forty years on and this version just four years ago in New York. This is its UK première.

Central character Ollie Olsen was a sailor and navy boxing champ until he lost his right arm in a car accident. Unable to get work, propositioned by a man in a New Orleans park, he falls into a career as a male prostitute. He’s never comfortable and often repulsed by what he does through necessity.

Moises Kaufman has created his adaptation from both the short story and the screenplay, but unlike both in flashback from Ollie’s cell on death row, inundated by letters from former clients, though we don’t know what put him there until the end. This works really well and director Josh Seymour’s brilliant staging is riveting throughout its 80 minute running time.

Tom Varey is outstanding as Ollie with a bandage signifying the lost arm and a spot on accent. He’s got terrific support from Peter Hannah, Joe Jameson, Georgia Kerr and James Tucker who play 21 roles very effectively between them.

I’ve seen lots of TW shorts, but this betters all of them. In fact, it’s up there with some of his full length plays. I was bowled away by both the play and the production. Much more than just another one for the collector.


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