The spirit of Tennessee Williams is alive, and maybe not so well, in Pride Films & Plays’ superb production of HIS GREATNESS. The atmosphere, tension and human drama of his plays receives an affectionate and devastating homage in this beautifully written and heartbreakingly acted play.
A Playwright Not in His Prime
The show focuses on a famous American playwright in his twilight years. The audience meets him inside a hotel room on the day of the opening of his new-ish play. His longtime assistant attempts to corral him and a young man enters his life as a potential new muse. This once famous and internationally revered playwright is clearly in a dark place, both literally and figuratively. The audience is taken on a sometimes tragic and always human journey through the eyes of the playwright’s assistant about a man’s regrets and occasional hope.
Atmosphere and Wit Combine
The relationships of these three men play out over only two days inside a confined hotel room. The small and dark space of the venue lends to the claustrophobic atmosphere of the show. No brightness of any kind is found within this small space. Darkness is a both literal and figurative looming fixture inside the world of HIS GREATNESS.
In a play with so much gloom, lighting design can be tricky. Lighting designer Cassandra Bierman uses the contrast of dark to light to create this confined and generally uncomfortable world. Gradual light fades mixed with sudden changes guide the audience through this blackness.
Playwright Daniel McIvor uses words in a similar fashion to Williams himself. All at once, the very same words can be used to show deep affection or completely devastate. In the words of director David Zak, “I think of this as a play Tennessee Williams might have written in a different time or place.” Anyone who is familiar and a fan of Williams’ work will find something in this work to appreciate.
Pride Films & Plays Brings Talent
With a cast of only three actors, a weak link would stand out and potentially ruin an otherwise fabulous production. This show has no weak link. Whitman Johnson brings a lightness to the character of the Young Man but never shies away from the darkness of what his future most likely holds. Andrew Kain Miller plays the balance of love and hate within the Assistant with brilliance and subtlety. He takes the words of playwright and uses them to eviscerate and lift up his friend and nemesis. Danne W. Taylor channels the ghost of what we have come to know as Tennessee Williams’ persona. Taylor’s performance can only be described as stunning.
Photos by Paul Goyette
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note an excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Top Pick For: Fans of Tennessee Williams and Lovers of Drama
Not recommended for: Action Seekers
October 14 - November 12, 2017
The Buena, Pride Arts Center, 4147 N. Broadway, Chicago
Online at www.pridefilmsandplays.com
By phone at 800-737-0984