Playwright Tennessee Williams made his name in the 1950s with such famous works as The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and others.
However, he found life increasingly hard in the following decades, so the announcement that the Chemainus Theatre Festival was putting on A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur, a play Williams wrote in the late 1970s, just a few years before his death, created a lot of interest in what it would be like.
Lovely Sunday is all about four single women living in St. Louis in the mid-1930s, and it highlights everything the author had learned about how women think.
The characters are drawn with a slightly softer brush than those in Williams’s earlier works and there’s a lot of real humour in this play but underpinning it all are some serious themes.
The main one is an exploration of the four ways they look at loneliness.
Dotty (Stacie Steadman) has health issues but has been trying to pretend she’s not getting older. Helena (Kaitlyn Williams) is ruthlessly attempting to fashion a comfortable nest for herself. Miss Gluck (Randi Edmundson) is thrown into deep depression when her mother dies unexpectedly. And Bodey (Erin Ormond), recognizing that she’s not going anywhere, is pinning all her hopes on a marriage between her twin brother and her roommate, Dotty.
All of the actors weave in and out around each other, but their worries about being left alone are recurring threads in this colourful tapestry of emotion.
Ormond’s kindly Bodey first appears to be a bit dim-witted, but after a while it becomes clear that she sees events with a surprisingly keen eye.
On the opposite side is acid-tongued Helena, whose snobbery is eventually exposed as an attempt to deal with a very uncertain future. Between these two extremes, Dotty and Miss Gluck are seen as a couple of women in real trouble.
There’s a lot to like about this play: it moves along well without rushing past anything important, it gives the four actors plenty of room to develop their interesting characters, and it’s funny, especially in the second half.
When it’s over, the audience is left wondering: will Dotty marry Buddy after all? Will Miss Gluck find sanctuary in a new apartment? You want to know more. And, that, after all, is the mark of good storytelling.
Don’t miss A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur.
It continues at the Chemainus Theatre Festival until Saturday, Sept. 24. Book tickets online at chemainustheatre.ca or call 1-800-565-7738 to reserve.