A review by Bernie Whelan for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

Good Night Out presents

Tennessee Williams World Premiere

 

A Cavalier for Milady



Caitlin Thorburn as Nance, Sam Marks as Nijinsky

© RICHARD HUBERT SMITH

 


Directed by Gene David Kirk

 

Cock Tavern Theatre


29 March - 23 April 2011

 

This is the second world premiere of a Tennessee Williams one act play at the Cock Tavern Theatre to mark the 100th birthday of one of the world's most produced playwrights. The mystery of why A Cavalier for Milady has remained unproduced for so long is finally solved by seeing it put on with a set lavish enough for any Southern Belle, designed by Cherry Truluck, albeit on a tiny stage where an apparition of Vaslav Nijinsky (Sam Marks) dances to the ideal of artistic purity, conjured by the sex-starved imagination of the child-woman Nance (Caitlin Thorburn), kept prisoner by her louche dissolute mother (Janet Prince). So far, so Tennessee Williams, and yet this revenge play, written between trips to rehab for alcohol and drug addiction towards the end of his life, feels more like the kind which picks petulantly at old family sores than one which can develop a theme on a more abstract level, in spite of its experimental and highly self-conscious motif of male artistic purity struggling to break free from a selfish and sordid female sexual voraciousness.

That said, the cast do well in bringing these rather thinly drawn stock characters from the Williams oeuvre to life. Janet Prince is magnificently degenerate as The Mother working her way through the local escort agencies with her amusing but equally amoral sidekick, Mrs Aid (Lucinda Curtis). After a wild night in the bushes devouring young men , the harpies decide to move on to 'A Cavalier for Milady' next. Meanwhile, a 'respectable' solid Irish sitter (Gillian Hanna) is engaged to keep an eye on Nance and is outraged at the 'unnatural' state of affairs she finds at the mansion, where Nance is kept heavily sedated and dressed in a child's party frock to appease her mother. Williams never forgave his own mother for agreeing to a lobotomy on his beloved sister Rose and here, The Mother hints darkly at the close of the play that Nance will have to be confined.

The play pivots on an imaginary exchange between Nance and Nijinsky about sex and art which is embarrassingly fey, although the actors save it from absurdity with an admirable intensity and concentration, holding the audience spellbound by their aching portrayal of unfulfilled desire. It's a sad hour, leaving its audience feeling as frustrated as poor Nance, but no doubt diehard fans of Tennessee Williams will enjoy it immensely.


 
Cock Tavern Theatre, 125 Kilburn High Road, NW6 6JH

Weds  - Sat 7.30pm

Tickets: £8 - £15

Box Office: 08444 771 000

http://www.cocktaverntheatre.com


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