Twice and Twice: The Tennessee Williams Project (guest review by @loisrp)

Through Stone’s Throw Productions, Pacific Theatre allows opportunities for fledgling thespians to practice their craft. Kimberley Dawn MacEachern makes her directorial debut with this apprenticeship program with “Twice and Twice: The Tennessee Williams Project”, playing December 8-10 at Pacific Theatre.

Two of Tennessee Williams’ most renowned plays are”The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire”. This project combines an iconic scene from each of these iconic plays, thus allowing the theatre-goer to compare and contrast them. Each scene is set in a somewhat shabby sitting room, and presents maximum dramatic interaction in a conversation between two women: the daughter Laura and the mother Mrs. Wingfield in “Menagerie”, and the two sisters, Stella and Blanche, in “Streetcar”.

A Greek-inspired chorus sings selections from the poetry of the tragic American poet Hart Crane at intervals. The melange of the scenes and the chorus is interesting, and the singing is excellent, but it can be difficult to pick out the lyrics. The lyrics, however, are provided in the programme, and the sense of
tragedy comes through. As someone who is very interested in 20th-century American writers, I appreciated that this little-known poet was highlighted.

Both plays present a world where would-be Southern gentility runs headlong into grim economic and social realities. In “Menagerie”, the desperation in Mrs. Wingfield’s assessment of Laura’s prospects is immediately apparent. Laura, the dreamy slightly-disabled girl who just does not and cannot enter the adult world, is well-presented.

In “Streetcar”, with the character of Blanche, her alcoholism and sense of ruin clearly comes through. Although the actress does some interesting voice work in her portrayal, I would favour a more ethereal, whispery approach for this character who is almost not of this world. Stella’s embrace of a baser, more physical world, as represented by her love for the off-stage Stanley, is clear.

I appreciated the chance to take in four of Tennessee Williams’ Southern women characters in one sitting. All share elements of a somewhat common culture, but respond so differently. That said, “Streetcar” is set in New Orleans, and “Menagerie” in a generic southern location, and the two plays feature women of different social classes. With an all-female cast, the theatrical dynamics are focused on women’s interactions with each other.

Although the selected scenes stand on their own, the theatre-goer who is already familiar with these plays will likely get more from the production. As always, theatre can prove to be an instigator for learning more.

Read more about Stone’s Throw Productions at Pacific Theatre.

Disclaimer: Lois was provided a free ticket for this show. A review was not expected, nor a positive review required.

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