Sara Buffamanti and Tuomas
Austin Flint's Prison Light
Photo Credit: Hunter Canning
Saturday 2:00pm & 7:00pm
October 21 - 30th
you’re content to take Austin Flint’s
Prison Light at face value. Parker, a
goodhearted man driven by his anger at injustice,
is preoccupied with two prisoners who have been
detained, blindfolded and shackled without charge.
He can hear their voices, he claims. Are they
at Gitmo (even though one of them is a woman)?
Are they at one of those black sites the CIA has
secreted in countries whose governments are less
than diligent about civil liberties? If that’s
the case, how can Parker possibly make a difference,
despite the dozens of letters he writes to some
shady, unnamed authorities? Then, Parker makes
an uneasy contact with the prisoners. It looks
like they’re being kept not far from where
he lives, and it seems like he lives somewhere
in the United States. Parker leaves his watch
with them as a guarantee that he’ll return
to free them. How can this be? Who let him into
the prison to talk to these prisoners? Later,
we see Parker’s wife Elizabeth soothe him
after he’s had a seizure and nightmare,
but his watch is still gone.
A Kafkaesque quality suffuses the play, thanks
largely to Andrea Mincic’s minimalist set,
Elizabeth Rhodes’ sound design, Ellie Rabinowitz’s
lighting design and Alice Reagan’s crisp
direction. On his way to the prisoners, Parker
is accosted by a stranger (Chad Hoeppner, in one
of three roles) who warns him of overall lawlessness
in the land. When Parker visits a hardware store
to buy tools to break the prisoners out, the proprietor
(Hoeppner again) is suspicious of him, and threatens
to shoot him when he decides to leave. Parker's
job is repetitive, soulless and quite possibly
absurd. His boss, Pembroke, (Meg MacCary) is a
martinet, his coworker (Hoeppner) is a flunky.
Who, after all, is the prisoner?
The acting in this brief, intense play is excellent.
Bernardo Cubria is moving, bewildering and ultimately
heartbreaking as Parker, and Danielle Slavick
gets our sympathy as the wife who loves and stays
with him despite his obsessions. Sara Buffamanti
and Tuomas Hiltunen are also good as the two prisoners.
We learn quickly that whoever they are, they weren’t
innocents picked up because they were in the wrong
place at the wrong time, and Buffamanti and Hiltunen
convey the right amount of menace, desperation
and contempt as they dare Parker to release them
into the world. MacCary is appropriately frosty
as Pembroke and Hoeppner makes the most of his
three very different roles. Costume designer Ramsey
Scott dresses everyone but Parker and Elizabeth
in fabric that reminds one of both camouflage
and a sad, grayish tie-dye.
Prison Light is an unsettling glimpse
into the anxieties that live in one man’s
head, and maybe the anxieties that live out there
in the world.
Ticket Price: $18.00 |
Tickets by Phone: 212-352-3101 web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/877735
145 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10013
Suddenly Last Summer
Tuesdays at 8 p.m.
Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 3 p.m.
Additional performance: October 1st at 2 p.m.
September 16th October 2nd, 2011
Hudson Guild Theater
Reviewed by Arlene
One wonders what
Tennessee Williams was thinking when he wrote
Suddenly Last Summer, his macabre and
bizarrely funny one acter now at the Hudson Guild
Theatre, presented by the White Horse Theater
Company. We know he was seeing a shrink at the
time, and he was forever tormented by his sister
Rose’s institutionalization in what he called
the “bug house,” and their crazy mother’s
role in having her committed and then lobotomized.
Thus it shouldn’t be surprising that Suddenly
Last Summer is a gumbo of madness, spiritual
incest and cannibalism. It's hard, in this day
and age, to take it seriously. But director Cyndy
A. Marion and her stellar cast succeed in moving
their audience, inspite of the improbabilities.
The story concerns Sebastian, a sensitive poet-type
who we never see, who was killed under very odd
circumstances at a place call Capo de Lobo (Wolf’s
Head?). His mother, Violet Venable, has inherited
his house with its tropical garden and is the
executrix of his will. Sebastian has left a great
deal of money to his cousins, Catharine Holly
and her brother George, but George believes they
can get their hands on it only if Catharine recants
her description of Sebastian’s death. More,
not only will they not get Sebastian’s money
if Catharine doesn’t change her story, but
Catharine will be pulled from the tony mental
institution that her aunt is paying for and thrown
into what amounts to a snake pit. And Mrs. Venable
isn’t above bribing the earnest young doctor
who’s come to evaluate the situation to
accept her view of events, either.
Whatever else a theatergoer may think about Suddenly
Last Summer, it does have some absolutely
juicy parts. Elizabeth Bove is fantastic as Mrs.
Venable. At first, lame, dressed in her draperies,
with her poisoned honey Southern voice, we believe
she’s a frail and charming old lady. But
slowly and even subtly, Bove reveals Mrs. Venable’s
utter monstrousness. Her devotion to her profligate
son should be charming, but we immediately pick
up the undercurrent of rottenness; they carried
on more like lovers than mother and son as they
gallivanted all around Europe. After Mrs. Venable
had her stroke and was unable to beguile Sebastian’s
potential conquests, he took up with his cousin
Catharine, superbly played by Lacy J. Dunn. Dunn’s
Catharine is both vulnerable, voluptuous, capable
of childish spite (love that scene where she stubs
out her cigarette in her nun/caretaker’s
palm) but compelled to tell the truth, with or
without a truth serum. Douglas Taurel is excellent
as the naive Dr. Cukrowicz. He assumes he’s
come to Mrs. Venable’s mansion to do the
right thing, and just barely manages to escape
her corruption. His last lines redeem him, if
The supporting actors are also good, and WIlliams
must have had a bit of nasty fun creating their
characters. Heather Lee Rogers is Miss Foxhill,
Mrs. Venable’s companion, and Rogers has
fun emphasizing her character's excruciating primness.
Carol Ann Foley’s Sister Felicity is only
trying to do the admittedly difficult job of keeping
Catharine in check. She doesn’t quite deserve
to have a cigarette put out in her hand, but then,
she was asking for it. Lué McWilliams brings
the right note of hysteria to Catharine’s
mother, while Haas Regen plays up George’s
hateful foppishness. His concern for his sister
doesn’t extend past his need for her to
get her story straight so he can collect his loot.
McWilliams and Regen are engaging, and hilarious.
John C. Scheffler’s
set design is fantastic, with only a few strategically
placed pots of snake plants placed around the
set, a back wall full of windows and a ghastly,
huge Venus flytrap stage left. Debra Leigh Siegel’s
lighting, Colin Whitely’s sound design and
Joe Gianono’s incidental music all add to
the perception of a place that's too hot, too
humid and too claustrophobic. David B. Thompson’s
costumes, from the doctor's innocent vanilla suit
to Catharine’s little hat and the nun’s
moth gray habit, fix the play at a certain time,
but not too rigidly. This is one production of
Suddenly Last Summer that’s worth
seeing. It’ll be at the Hudson Guild Theatre
till October 2.
There will be an
interpreted performance for the deaf on Tuesday,
September 27th. Tickets are $18 and are now available
online at www.smarttix.com or by calling (212)
868-4444. Tickets may also be purchased in-person
at the theater ½ hour prior to performance.
Running Time: Approx. 90 minutes Website: www.whitehorsetheater.com
Theater |441 West 26th St.