Theater and Concert Reviews.
'The Two Character Play'
by ROBERT MASSIMI 10 months ago in REVIEW Insanity and Obsolescence Robert Massimi.
The Two Character Play at the 13th St. Theater is a play by Tennessee Williams that was very near and dear to the playwright. Williams often said that he liked both the layers and the different nuances to this body of work. Although it was initially not well received, this work has played over the years with more recognition than when originally produced.
The Two Character Play is about a brother and sister who are in the boondocks somewhere in the United States and need to put on a good play if their tour is to continue. The problem that Claire and Felice face is that both the manager and the other actors have quit the tour because they think that the two are insane.
Faced with no other cast members, Claire (Sarah Kiefer) and brother, Felice (Harry Bainbridge), are forced to put on "The Two Character Play." While Claire just wants to go home, Felice loves writing and acting and wants to continue on with the tour.
Williams, whom many consider to be the greatest American playwright, had many plays that gained notoriety in later years. Small Craft Warnings, which I saw this year at the 13th Street Theater, and A Lovely Sunday At Creve Coeur at the St. Clemente Theater are two that come to mind as forgotten plays being brought forth as of late.
The Two Character Play, being a play within a play, is best when the two are backstage bantering. Unfortunately, the play part is confusing and slow at times. To no fault of the actors, director, lighting and costumes, this play is just too convoluted to ever be any good. Last year this play was performed in the East Village; the director had Felice perform his role in a leather jock strap and had Claire in a clown outfit. The director did this to bring forth the insanity of the two rather than rely on the story's plot line.
Kiefer and Bainbridge did an admirable job in their roles. The direction was fine as well, it's just that the story is too convoluted. In most of Williams' plays, it is much easier to see the characters in front of us. In this play, we just are not certain what William's is giving us. We know that their father was a psychic and he killed their mother. We know the two live in a mansion with no utilities. In the end we see the two flirt with killing each other, but we never know why.
This play is 90 minutes long without an intermission. The first 15 minutes as well as the last 15 minutes are very good, it's the hour in between that left the audience in the state of confusion and boredom.
Allison Homan did a great job in lighting this show. Her choice of romantic lighting was both edgy and creative. The lighting gave this show a cryptic feel, and it brought forward the aura that these insane individuals exuded.
The direction also let the audience explore these two characters who were not only intertwined, but also extremely dependent upon each other. Where the two fought, insulted each other and at times hated each other, we saw in a gentle way how they depended on each other to carry them through a world of abnormality. In a set that is typical Williams, in a place that is at the heart of the playwright's world, The Two Character Play gets lost somewhere between
Tennessee Williams, Tennessee Williams Pulitzer Prize, 13th Street Theater.