SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER
Chelmsford Theatre Workshop at the Old Court
“This is a true story about the time and the world we live in ...”
And Tennessee Williams, in this powerful one-act-play from 1958, tells it in a masterly way, with the appalling details of the martyrdom of Sebastian teased out in the hesitant testimony of a damaged girl.
Kelly McGibney's imaginative production for Chelmsford Theatre Workshop immerses us in the “well-groomed jungle” - a sensory garden indeed, with the noisy birds and the bright primary colours reflected in the furniture, the photo frames, the slim volume of poetry. And heady, sickly scents of summer to accentuate salient moments – an inspired touch.
Subtler lighting, bolder design and period costume, might have helped to draw us in to the oppressive, unhealthy atmosphere, but the central performances are strong enough to bring the drama alive. Especially Jade Flack's Catherine: vulnerable, confused and afraid, she is totally convincing as the [very] young cousin who is a horrified, helpless witness to the death of the poet – that final monologue superbly done. The poet's mother is also powerfully drawn in Barbara Llewellyn's sensitive performance: haughty, intransigent, with a hint of the Iron Lady, she is no mere monster, but a complex woman with moments of insightful introspection - “the shadows as luminous as the light” … Joe Kennedy is the young doctor, torn between his conscience and the need to fund his work.
Sally Jane Ransom stands out amongst the supporting players – accent and interpretation spot on.
A fine end to the season at the Old Court – they're back in September with another classic from the 50s, The Birds.
Mrs Venable's 30s portrait photograph by Jacob Burtenshaw