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Southern Belles

“Uneven tennessee williams double bill”

You can see why director Jamie Armitage has paired these two Tennessee Williams one-act plays together for King’s Head Theatre’s Queer Season.

Thematically, Something Unspoken and And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens share uneven power balances and behind-closed-doors queer leanings, but when placed alongside one another they have the disadvantage of highlighting both the pros and cons of short plays.

Something Unspoken follows a wealthy social grandee and her secretary in a pink living room as they navigate a succession of telephone calls.

The pacing is as sluggish as a muggy Deep South afternoon – or a London heatwave for that matter – and the allusiveness quickly wears thin. Annabel Leventon and Fiona Marr give stoic performances, but they really haven’t much to work with.

In contrast, And Tell Sad Stories of the Death of Queens is astounding. Written in 1958 but never performed during Williams’ lifetime, the script carries just as much emotional heft as his most celebrated works.

Equal parts violent, sinister and tragic, it captures the innate dangers of being queer in mid-century USA and, indeed, a depressing number of countries today.

Luke Mullins excels as Candy, the protagonist, swinging from self-loathing to coquettishness with disarming ease, while George Fletcher’s restraint in the part of his boneheaded love interest is effective.

While it probably wasn’t the intention, Southern Belles shows how you can achieve two drastically different audience experiences from what, on the surface, appears to be similar material.

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Production Details
Production nameSouthern Belles
VenueKing's Head Theatre
StartsJuly 24, 2019
EndsAugust 24, 2019
Running time1hr 30mins
AuthorTennessee Williams
DirectorJamie Armitage
Set designerSarah Mercadé
Lighting designerBen Jacobs
CastAnnabel Leventon, Ben Chinapen, Fiona Marr, George Fletcher, Luke Mullins, Michael Burrows
Production managerAndrew Josephs
Stage managerJoanna Need
ProducerKing's Head Theatre, Making Productions
VerdictUneven double bill of under-appreciated Tennessee Williams' short plays about the queer experience
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