Dreamers: Three short plays by Tennessee Williams

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Susannah York at the New End Theatre

A few nights ago, we ventured up to the wonderful New End Theatre in Hampstead to see three short plays by Tennessee Williams.

The first play, This Property is Condemned, revolves around Willie, an unkempt, unhinged and tragic young woman who lives alone in a derelict boarding house. Set near railway tracks on the outskirts of a small Mississippi town during the depression, the off kilter Willie tells Tom the story of her life and her dead sister, the ill fated prostitute Alva.

The Lady of Larkspur Lotion is set in a wretched, cockroach-infested room in a boarding house in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The play revolves around three characters. Mrs Hardwicke-Moore, brilliantly played by Susannah York, is immediately recognisable as a deluded and broken Blanch Dubois character. Mrs Wire is the abrasive, no nonsense landlady who doesn’t believe a word of Mrs Hardwicke-Moore’s excuses for not being able to pay the rent. Jos Vantyler, the only actor to appear in all three plays, is a failed writer who is a raging and bitter alcoholic.

Talk to Me Like the Rain is about a desperately unhappy couple. A man – and a woman hauntingly played by Lysette Anthony. She has survived on nothing but water for 3 days and has spent the time confined to a seedy furnished room in Manhatten. He wakes up with her at home with dim, dark memories of what he did the debauched night before. Under duress the women laments her longing to leave the life she despises to a live a different existence by the seaside.

Dreamers lasts for a total of 60 minutes, around 20 minutes for each play with no interval. Ninon Jerome’s direction is a real lesson in less is more, minimal sets and absolutely no gimmicks – just great performances. At the New End Theatre until 10 October.