The Theatreguide.London Review
Get Dressed Till After Dark On Sundays
a real coup and very much to the credit of this ambitious pub theatre
that it has been given the rights to two hitherto unknown plays by
Tennessee Williams, with A Cavalier For Milady later this month and
this unpublished 1970 drama now.
would want to see this, even if it were not very good. And it is not
very good, though that should not stop you from seeing it.
of the 1960s either drunk, drugged or in rehab, and although he
declared himself clean and cured, and continued to write until his
death in 1983, something had been lost in the lost decade.
poetic imagination - no one else would have a character say (and get
away with) 'I have been betrayed by a sensual streak in my nature' -
and no other playwright would put a dying actress and a stud in a New
Orleans bedroom and let then discover their need for each other.
What was fading, as Williams' other plays of the 1970s also show, was his ability to shape these images and bursts of poetry into coherent plays. I Never Get Dressed.... is more a rough sketch for a play than the play itself, and it is too much made up of bits and pieces borrowed from other, more successful Williams dramas.
In her fragility
and near-hysteria, the girl in this play is a pale copy of Blanche and
Amanda, while the boy unable to think beyond his crotch is far coarser
and less sympathetic than Stanley or Chance but cut from the same
template. The girl's hysterical reaction to the constant noise of
tourists outside is just Maggie shouting at the no-neck monsters, while
his telling of a gratuitously macabre story footnotes directly to The
Night Of The Iguana. And the whole scene is an out-take from or sketch for a subplot in Vieux Carre.
those self-plagiarisms, all Williams really has to say here is that the
two are far from ideal choices for each other, but they're all they've
got, and he has said that far more successfully elsewhere.
that he hadn't really written the play he wanted to, Williams puts it
all in a frame, as we discover that what we are watching is actors in a
final rehearsal of a play about these characters, breaking the illusion
to complain about their lines or take notes from the 'director' and
Williams to say what he wasn't able to dramatise, either by having the
'playwright' explain his intentions to the actors or by having them
describe their understanding of a scene. You can almost sense him
repeatedly reaching a point in the script and thinking 'I don't know
how to get this across in dialogue.' Telling us what he was unable to
show us might have been a stopgap, had Williams been able to return to
the text and polish it. But leaving it that way is an admission of
fragile text he had to work with, the actual director Hamish MacDougall
is able only to get uneven results from his cast. Keith Myers as the
playwright and Shelley Lang as the girl are most successful in creating
and sustaining the reality of their characters, with the others too
frequently falling into the trap of cartoonish one-dimensionality the
playwright set for them.
is not a good play. But it is unmistakeably a Tennessee Williams play,
and that is sufficient reason to recommend it.
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- I Never Get Dressed Till After Dark on Sundays - Cock Tavern 2011