In Bed with Tenn: A Collection of One Acts by Tennessee Williams and Theories of his Death
One Acts written by Tennessee Williams; Theories by George Neilson
Directed by Natalia Lazarus and George Neilson
Presented by Promenade Playhouse
There are few 20th century playwrights more iconic and accomplished than Tennessee Williams; The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Rose Tattoo, The Night of the Iguana. Not one but two Pulitzer Prizes, three New York Drama Critics’ Circle Awards, a Tony, not to mention the Presidential Medal of Honor. Whoo-wee. And yet—so tragically human of him—Williams still suffered greatly from runaway insecurity, depression and unrelenting substance abuse.
While his sort of pretzel logic could mean that we are certainly doomed as a species, every once in a while one of us walks upright and does something especially clever, which is what Director Natalia Lazarus and Playwright George Neilson have done in celebration of Williams’ centennial birth date. The Promenade Playhouse in Santa Monica and its Promenade Players Theatre Company assembled six one act Williams plays—some familiar and some rarely performed—and knitted them together in an evening’s theme with new material in the form of Tennessee Williams himself waxing poetic on his own creations and mysterious death (think Mama Cass).
The one acts vary from old to new, with publishing and debut dates ranging from 1945 to 2008. The cast is led by Vincent Lappas who plays Tennessee Williams himself, introduces each one act, cajoles us, plays with us, and coyly breaks down the fourth wall without ever getting out of his robe and slippers. With a bed as the central theme for every piece (including the Theories), the evening’s performances consist of Talk to me Like the Rain and Let me Listen, about two tortured souls; Hello From Bertha, about a single tortured soul; The Lady of Larkspur Lotion, about dreamers and an evil landlady; Green Eyes, about newlyweds and war; The Big Game, about men and the games we play on ourselves; and The Pronoun “I”, about Mad Queen May and her boy-toy. Not an evening of comedies to be sure, but not without wry laughs either.
The cast, which features Oriko Ikeda, Sean O’Reilly, Danette Garrelts, Alexa Asjes, Tricia Felice, Catherine Curtis, Rose Desena, Bryan Kent, Bryan M. Cummings, Daryl Harper, Paul Magaletta and Kraig Dane, does a masterful job of alternating leading roles in some one acts while swiftly serving as supporting characters in others. Even though the basic elements of the set change very little, the consistent quality of the acting and the set design by Bob Privitt make each act individual and new.
And thus we are carried through an evening of Williams like a trip along monkey bars, each connected to the one before and after. The producers highlighted Williams’ definition of theatre in its description: “Something wild, something exciting, something that you are not used to.” In Bed with Tenn is all of the above.
You can get your tickets online here or call 310-656-6070 to order by phone.
Promenade Playhouse (map)
1404 3rd Street Promenade
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Several parking structures nearby.
This theatre has concessions.
Saturday, July 22
Sunday, July 23
Both at 8:00 p.m.
Running time is about two hours with one intermission
$15 for Seniors and Students
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