We all make mistakes, that is part and parcel of being a human being. But what happens when we are forced to look at those mistakes and try to make amends?
In the 1964 film, Night Of The Iguana (based on a play by Tennessee Williams), Reverend Dr. T. Lawrence Shannon (Richard Burton) is a defrocked priest who now makes his living by as a tour guide at a discount travel agency in Mexico. His newest charges are a group of middle ages women from Texas. The leader of the group, Judith Fellowes (Grayson Hall) is accompanied by her teenage ward, Charlotte Goodall (Sue Lyon).
Despite the marked age difference and the warning from her guardian, Charlotte spending the evening with Lawrence. When Judith finds out, she tries to reach out to Lawrence’s manager and have him fired, but Lawrence intercepts the message and sends the women to a remote hotel run by Maxine Falk (Ava Gardner). While this is happening, Hannah Jelkes (Deborah Kerr) and her elderly grandfather also become guests at Maxine’s hotel. By the end of the film, Lawrence will be forced to take a hard look at his life, thanks to Hannah.
The narrative and the characters are standard for a Tennessee Williams play. He never writes simple stories with 2D characters and the standard Hollywood/happily ever after ending. His stories are always complicated, his characters are flawed and the final scene could be construed as ambiguous.
I recommend it.
There is a reason that Tennessee Williams is one of the most brilliant playwrights of the 20th century. His characters are so human, full of the same experiences, joys and mistakes that we all go through in life.
This weekend, I saw a revival of The Glass Menagerie starring Cherry Jones.
The Glass Menagerie is the story of a family living in the midwest during the 1930’s. Amanda Wingfield is a single mother living with her adult children, Tom (Zachary Quinto) and Laura (Celia Keenan-Bolger). Tom is working at a local factory and frequently argues with his mother. Laura is walks with a limp and only socializes with her mother and brother, suffering from anxiety attacks if she has to socialize with anyone else.
Amanda is determined to bring in gentleman callers for her daughter and fondly remembers her youth and the gentleman callers she used to entertain. When Tom bring in a gentleman caller (Brian J Smith) home for dinner, a slim chance of happiness and marital bliss appears for Laura, only for it to be smashed into tiny pieces by the end of the play.
Tennessee Williams is one of my favorite playwrights. I love Streetcar Named Desire, it’s one of the most brilliant plays ever written, Blanche Bubois is hands down one of the great characters ever created. The same themes of reality vs. fantasy, the dream like memories of the past vs. the rough and not so nice present appear in both plays.
Cherry Jones is a wonder in this part. I saw her a few years ago in Mrs. Warren’s Profession. She blew me away then and she blew me away this weekend. Zachary Quinto and Celia Keenan-Bolger as her children seem on stage as if they are really siblings, instead of actors pretending to be siblings. Brian J Smith as the gentleman caller gives the audience hope that Laura may find the happiness that both she and her mother want to have.
The play closes on February 23rd. If you have the opportunity to get tickets, I highly recommend this show.