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The Parade

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow
3 stars
A languid sense of ennui pervades the atmosphere of Glasgay!’s latest exploration of Tennessee Williams’ lesser-known works, as middle-aged playwright Don suns both himself and his desires beside pretty-boy actor Rich. Rich teases the older man like some beach bum Mr Sloane, aware of his beauty and promising much, but unwilling to deliver. Just as such pan-generational heavy breathing looks like it might turn into some death on Venice beach scenario, a third party, Miriam, enters as Rich leaves. She too wants something she knows she’ll never have, but, unlike Rich, meets Don on equal terms via extended musings on Jung, Freud and Marx. Most of all, though, Miriam becomes a sounding board for Don’s self-obsessive yearning after the parade of the play’s title, a crazed, discordant mess called love.

Completed in 1940 but not performed until 2006, Laurance Rudic’s approach to Williams’ early miniature looks timelessly contemporary. Fleshed out with modern expletives and some vogueishly me-generation reference points, however, it actually smacks of the strung-out post-party tristesse which the burnt-out 1960s jet-set had to square up to now they had time on their hands. Either that or a set-piece from some glossy TV soap self-reflexively homaging celebrity excesses on their own doorstep.

This is accentuated by avoiding the southern gentleman camp Williams is usually played with for a more Pinteresque opacity and some Method-style internalisation from Rudic as Don, Alex Harries as Rich and Canadian actress Adrienne Zitt as Miriam. The effect may at times appear self-conscious, but, as the Sun fades into dusk, what remains is an oddly mesmeric meditation on unrequited desire and lust for life turned sour.

The Herald, October 24th 2008

ends

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