If you think you’ve seen all of Tennessee Williams’ work think again. 27 years after the author’s death the National Theatre stages the London transfer of Northampton Royal & Derngate’s European Premiere of Spring Storm.
The play, written in 1937 lay forgotten in papers until its rediscovery in the 1990s but this is the first opportunity to see a UK staging of this early work.
And what an accomplished work it is. Despite being rejected at the time, Spring Storm clearly demonstrates a writer who had already found his voice and we see trends and characters that would shape his later, more familiar works. The familiar themes of unrequited love, betrayal, exclusion and sense of not belonging all evident in this and later plays. The ghost of Blanche from Streetcar in particular seems to haunt this production.
Laurie Sansom directs a top-notch cast who mange to combine both the pathos and the humour that has become Williams’ trademark style. Some of the Southern accents do occasionally wander (apart from a spot on Liz White as Heavenly Critchfield) but it’s only a minor criticism.
Designers Sarah Perks (set), Chris Davey (lighting) and Christopher Shutt (sound) create a total immersive atmosphere that moves effortlessly from locale to locale, without resorting to the staple ceiling fan.
Tennessee Williams’ is not always easy viewing and the emotions are typically fraught in this production, however the show is still as relevant and fresh today as it was when written over 70 years ago.
Currently a sell out, if you can obtain a ticket do for one of the theatrical events of the year.