Maybe it's just me, but I always see political undertones in this breakout early play by Williams (it premiered in 1944) that seemed to disappear in his later works. In a world that gave women of a certain class very few options, a woman's ability to charm "gentleman callers" was not so much harmless southern fluff as a sound business plan. Amanda's mounting panic over her daughter's shrinking, manless world is not, Williams seems to suggest, entirely unjustified. I like the way Michelle Mountain does Amanda, as wily, fun, and loopy, until she's absolutely cornered. Molly Thomas gives dignity to the quiet, simple Laura. Tom Whalen, who must both play Tom Wingfield as a young man and look back and narrate the events from a distance, does it with light, ironic gallantry in counterpoint to the quiet claustrophobia of female existence. Ryan Carlson, the gentleman caller, who is summoned to a dinner party from hell, miraculously pulls a fully formed character out of a script that almost insists he be a cardboard cutout.
It's a fresh and original classic, running through Saturday, December 17.
[Review published December 2005]