Editor/Publisher, Bina Sharif

Friday, June 5, 2009


The Pearl Theater Company presents
              Tennessee Williams'
               VIEUX CARRÉ
Directed by Austin Pendleton

When Tennessee Williams decided to move away from his mother and his sister to escape his vague anxiety and his pain which was already accumulating in him as a young writer of poems and short stories, he ended up in a dilapidated New Orleans boarding house at 722 Toulouse Street in the French Quarter. The tenants of that shadowy boarding house became the lost, mournful, lonely and aspiring characters of his future plays.  The memory of those Isolated and sad human beings never left Tennessee alone...

Those people appeared in one form or the other in many of his plays and stories but finally in the play VIEUX CARRÉ  he decided that we the audience should meet them fully as he met them when he was 28 years old.

In VIEUX CARRÉ  Tennessee Williams' takes us to the dimly lit, dingy rooms of 
his youth's memory, the vulnerability of love and the pain of its broken threads,
the promise of a future and the fear of the lack of any ray of light to shine on it,
the impending terrors and loneliness of aging and death and the sexual Identity
and the ache of nostalgic sorrow for life's waste.

The boarding house at 722 Toulouse Street, in the Vieux Carré district of New Orleans is run by Mrs. Wire, (Carol Schultz) has tennants in it who are fighting a loosing battle of desire in the name of escape from this no man's land of loss
and hope,  resignation instead of despair over their demise of un-fullfilled promise or a glimmer of light which makes them travel back and forth to their own empty lives and dreams.

The boarding house has a young man, the writer, (Sean Mcnall) who narrates the stories of the rest of the dwellers of darkness and many times become part of the story which he is typing on his old type writer with a candle which many times he can't light because there are no matches to be found and the burnt out bulbs have never been replaced by the land lady.  So their lives are literally reflected from inside out in the dark shadows which cast a spell on the memories of the characters and the audience.

Vieux Carré  is a memory play.  Its about the youth and the old age of the artist
who is lonely and disillusioned and is fighting to Identify himself sexually.
There are runaways and old ladies who some times don't even remember who they are but recite beautiful poetry about their vanished glorious and refined past while they have nothing much to loose because they have lost it all.

There is a young troubled woman named Jane, (Rachel Botchan) who is a nice,
lovely young lady on the run and haunted by demons and is in love with a strip show hustler and a drug addict named Tye, ( Joseph Collins)  whom she wants to get rid of but keep wanting him to stay even after he subject her to emotional and sexual violence.
And than there is an old man, an ailing painter named, Nightingale, (George Morfogen) who draws portraits in a bar called two parrots bar and is dying of loneliness and begs the young writer for company and affection and sex.
To him the sexual encounter with any stranger is the answer to his eternal loneliness.  And then there is a maid named, nursie (Claudia Robinson) who is often needed for help by the land lady mostly to untangle the denziens of  their
emotional turmoil which is constant.

Tennessee Williams startted to write Vieux Carré  in 1939 and must have gone back to it for decades because it wasn't produced till 1977 on Broadway and after horrendously bad reviews closed within one week.

But almost every character in His later plays reflects the people of 722 Toulouse street,  forgotten people. lonely people, nostalgic people, vulnerable people, misunderstood people, people who have tons of poetry in them but no one to recite it to but to their own memory and to their own  Unforgettable  pastwhich
keeps coming back to haunt them

Vieux Carré  is Tennessee Williams most autobiographical play like Glass Menagerie. Its a sad and poetic story of lost souls who are seeking redemption and escape through Imagined promises of hope  and constant despair into one night stands and drugs and encounters with the wrong and rough loosers in the name of loneliness and emptiness of the soul.

The play is wonderfully directed by Austin Pendleton who captures beautifully the sadness, loss, dreams and poetry of these characters wounded hearts.
The play is hauntingly lit by Stephen Petrilli who creates shadows upon shadows
of hopes dimmed.

The whole cast is wonderful and captures the heart and the essence of Tennessee's mood and poetry but, George Morfogen breaks your heart with the ache of Immense loneliness.
Other brilliant performance is by Joseph Collins as Tye who destroys Jane with his sexual Intensity and passion of a man and a true hustler with a soul to sell.
Carol Schultz gives a fully accomplished performance as the land lady,  strong as a whip and loosing her mind at the same time.

Vieux Carré  is another superb performance by the great Pearl Theater Company and there is nothing more beautiful than Tennessee Williams poetry.  Give yourself a chance to hear it.

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