KING’S HEAD

VIEUX CARRÉ

TENNESSEE WILLIAMS

An astonishing early work by one of the most poetic of twentieth century American playwrights.

Here is the poetry in many long and beautifully delivered speeches; here also is the pain of loneliness even within relationships; here is genuine loneliness felt by those who are truly alone - those who feel themselves to be truly unloved and un-loveable; here in a lodging house in Vieux Carré are a bunch of grotesques, has-beens and wannabes, all desperately sharing this last space off their skid row and here is the young Tennessee Williams, an innocent, up for graps.

A tragic story then of a youth being corrupted? Well not really; people were laughing and clapping as well as holding back the tears? Why? Well, the landlady (brilliantly played by Nancy Crane) ran her house of pretentious repute with great comic grandeaur and also ran the play with her strength and presence; no less gripping was the performance of consumptive old artist again played brilliantly by David Whitworth) and, my goodness, didn’t he have great comic lines delivered with superb equilibrium.

Then there was the couple, man and wife, he a brute, she a fading beauty – absolute prequels to Blanche du Bois and Marlon Brando, to Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor when Williams’ great plays were made into films and the soul of closet gay America was laid bare.

Yes, this is a gay play; it is of recognising one’s homosexuality until one is able to come out of the closet and “head for the coast.” The young narrator (Tennesse Williams?) acknowledges that the events and characters of this play have shaped him, have made him ready to be himself, to be free.

Shaun Taynor