By Charly Ralph
The last of the summer sunshine set on The Print Room at the Coronet last night, providing the ideal environment for a Tennessee Williams’ play, almost emulating the Southern heat associated with his body of works. A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur is one of Williams’ later works, yet to be celebrated in the way his critically acclaimed plays, A Streetcar Named Desire (1947) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955), have been. However Williams’ understanding of character is just as prevalent throughout this piece as he reveals a snapshot of female life in 1930s America. Using the timeline of one ordinary Sunday morning, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur examines the restricted options available to women of the era when marriage had not befallen them.
Laura Roger’s Dorothea embodies the naïve romantic as she frantically waits for a phone call from her seemingly less than committed lover Ralph Ellis. Debbie Chazen’s portrayal of Bodey is expressive and kind hearted but also fiercely protective, the quintessential Southern mother figure with one foot always in the kitchen. Their on stage partnership is a harmonious one, full of compassion.
Enter Helena, a stern colleague of Dorothea’s, immaculately dressed with an obvious aura of superiority. Played by Hermione Gulliford, her arrival kickstarts the chaotic exchange of dialogue that closes the first act, comparable to that found in today’s romantic comedies with a strong female cast. The final character to be introduced is the depressed Miss Gluck, recognisable as the crazy woman that lives upstairs. In contrast to the others, Julia Watson’s Miss Gluck has very little dialogue but is just as effective on stage.
Although predominantly a comedy, Williams’ witty dialogue coupled with Michael Oakley’s direction brings the harsh reality of the women’s stories to life without so much as a change of set. Even if designer Fotini Dimou’s beautiful set is something to behold. The second act drags slightly as the audience await the moment Dorothea discovers the truth about her gentleman Ralph Ellis, but as a production A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur made extremely enjoyable viewing.
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur is on at The Print Room at the Coronet until the 7th October http://www.the-print-room.org/theatre/autumn-2016/a-lovely-sunday/