A NoHo Arts theatre review of of Gloria Gifford’s Jamaica Moon Productions’ ”Williams-Williams & Miller” by Tennessee Williams and Jason Miller, directed by Gloria Gifford, and running through June 12.
Back with a blast, Gloria Gifford’s latest production is a cleverly crafted collection of short plays. Two by the masterful Tennessee Williams and another by the brilliant Jason Miller, all early work from playwrights who show their unique genius from the very beginning of their careers.
With Tennessee Williams it’s all about the heat isn’t it? And this production of “Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry” and “Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton” brings the heat in ample measure. In “Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry” it comes from a need to fulfill one’s destiny, even when that turns out to be not at all what was expected. A young couple, thrown together by a night of passion and its subsequent offspring, struggle to find a connected purpose. The man wants freedom and the life he planned for himself, the woman resents that he could actually have it if he chose. But in the end, his choice is the life they have, or they could have given half a chance. Beautiful performances and a poignant message remind us that our purpose can pivot as quickly as a glance.
“Twenty-Seven Wagons Full of Cotton” is all about another kind of heat – the lusty kind. One man’s lust for another man’s profit and the other man’s lust for the first man’s wife. The wife herself has quite a bit of lust herself too, though. This play just doesn’t let up from the first minute to the last. It’s all flirting and canoodling and rampant sexual energy. Can we so easily be led astray by a handsome stranger and forbidden fruit? It’s played as all fun and games of course, However, there’s a definite undercurrent of darkness and deceit, and you just know it isn’t going to end well for any of them.
Gorgeous laugh-out-loud performances with menacing threads and one curvaceous bombshell at the centre of it. Wonderful!
“Lou Gehrig Did Not Die of Cancer” is a Jason Miller play from the 70s about broken dreams and grinding resentment. A husband teaches little league while his wife plays at being an actress and his father’s critical shadow looms large, making him hateful and angry and spiteful. When a marriage isn’t a happy one, meanness becomes routine and words are often spoken that can never be forgotten. This play is particularly real, tough to watch at times even with its tarnished loved and crumbling honesty, vivd performances with heartfelt breakdowns and their sad outcomes.
All three of these plays were thoughtfully chosen for the possibility of mezmerising performances, I think. These characters are flawed and brazen and somewhat irredeemable. Yet, there is something human still. A mirror to us all perhaps. These days it’s easy to hate and forget about empathy and an arc of understanding between us. Watching people behaving badly when they have so many opportunities not to is probably as important as anything right now. A reminder. A marker. A “be careful what you wish for” moment.
Gloria Gifford never seems to be afraid of telling it like it is, which I particularly love about her work. She’s fierce in her choices and her shows are always thoroughly entertaining and wickedly, thoughtfully fun.
The double-cast ensemble of the current production includes Danielle Abraham, Billy Budinich, Haile D’Alan, Amber Dancy, Chad Doreck, Samantha Esteban, Evelyn Gonzalez, Keturah Hamilton, Chris Jones, Denisha Kain, Joey Marie Urbina, Jade Ramirez, Danny Siegel, Keith Walker, Teagan Wilson and Dazelle Yvette.
Running through June 12
Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7.30pm
running through June 12, Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 7.30pm
The GGC Theatre
6502 Santa Monica Blvd. Hollywood, 90038