IN THE BAR OF A TOKYO HOTEL, London, To May 14

London
In the bar of a Tokyo hotel
By Tennessee Williams

The Arches To May 14
Villiers Street,
London WC2N 6NL

Tues-Sat 7.30pm: mats Wed 2.30pm; Sat 3.00pm

Runs: 1 ½ hrs with 15 min interval

TICKETS :
www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk
Box office: 08444 930 650

Review: by Carole Woddis of performance seen April 12, 2016:

Glorioous fading glory
Tennessee Williams `forgotten’, flawed 1969 play sits appropriately in what was once the Players’ Theatre, an auditorium with a faded charm in keeping with the atmosphere of this strange, haunted experiment.

Williams, influenced by his friendship with Japanese writer Yukio Mishima and a visit to Japan in the late ‘50s, tried his hand at incorporating the Japanese haiku into his dialogue, ending up with a string of staccato truncated exchanges – the beginning of a sentence half-finished, completed by the opposing speaker.

It makes for some awkward dialogue whilst feeding into the play’s combative emotional landscape between a dying American artist and his lonely, sexually rapacious wife.

Linda Marlowe would seem to be ideal casting for Miriam. Gaunt and stylish, with cheek bones that seem almost part of the action, Marlowe gives Miriam haughty dignity even as she gropes Andrew Koji’s polite Japanese barman in between outbursts of resentment over her failed marriage.

It’s an odd, statuesque portrait from Williams whose women, wreathed about in their author’s sometimes tortuous syntax can often seem unreal if poetically touching the heights. Miriam is one of his more outspoken, energised survivor-victims but still no match for Mark, the artist, struggling to bring a new form into being.

And it’s Mark’s agonising attempt to convey his creative excitement and terror that makes this curio worth the visit. David Whitworth’s tremendous paint-spattered collapsing, egotistical life-force could hardly be a more exact portrait of Williams’ own creative terrors. Blank canvas – or blank page – the artistic urge – in Mark’s case entranced as if for the first time by light and colour – is expressed with blinding, animalistic fervour that recalls John Logan’s play about modernist, Mark Rothko (Red, Donmar, 2009).

Whitworth’s is a galvanising presence in a production by Robert Chevara enlivened by Nicolai Hart-Hansen’s luminous blue background screen and oozing paint backdrop.

One more for Williams connoisseurs than the casual drop-in tourist, it’s a hard 90 minutes with occasional bursts of wonderful insight.

`I’ve always stayed in the circle of light’, says Miriam. With the demise of her `burden’, Williams implies, the prospect of her having to step outside it may prove just as terrifying.

In the bar of a Tokyo hotel
By Tennessee Williams

Cast:
Miriam: Linda Marlowe
Barman: Andrew Koji
Mark: David Whitworth
Hawaiian Lady: Jasmine Maya
Leonard: Alan Turkington

Director: Robert Chevara
Set Design: Nicolai Hart-Hansen
Costume Design: Jonathan Lipman
Lighting Design: Andrew May
Sound Design: Nico Menghini
Casting Director: Debbie O’Brien

Producers: Steven M Levy, Sean Sweeney, Vaughan Williams

Presented by special arrangement with the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee

First performance of this production of In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel at Charing Cross Theatre, April 5, 2016

2016-04-14 20:43:51

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