January 7, 2013


Portrait of Tennessee Williams. Courtesy of Juan Fernando Bastos


The name of the play is “Something Cloudy, Something Clear” and it is a Williams’ autobiographical play that originally popped up as a short play in 1941. Way back then, it was titled “The Parade”. Later, Williams expanded The Parade into a full-length play and produced it on Off-Off-Broadway in 1981. There are two versions of the play both set on wharfs of Provincetown. The two stories are basically the same. A young playwright named August (Williams) deals with unrequited love for another man.

The characters, and the situations are drawn from Williams’ life. He clearly has a sketchy dilemma that reflects a relationship Williams had in Provincetown with ‘his actual lover for summer (Kip Kiernan - actor).

The truth is that “The Parade” was written after a fight with Kiernan and Williams reflected that in the 1962 version of the play. However, the facts are that the play is different from Kip, as he really was. There is a quote here that says: “When someone hurts you deeply - we no longer see that person at all clearly. Maybe if Tennessee was still alive, his art might make things more clearly. But alas, his Art outlived the play.

In the play it reads very dramatic. There is brutal honesty on the pages, but something has gone to the clouds. I mean it is really cloudy. The Characters have a strange connection to each other. They love, but they love in a strange way. Oh, there are the occasional pieces of wit and bitchery sex play, but they don’t send out sparks.

The play is not all bad. There are Genius moments that really do get to the soul of the story. And there is superb acting that keeps you afloat. It’s not their fault that the play rambles too much. But here is the good news:  After all – Williams Play received its British professional premiere at the Finborough Theatre, London, in 2003. It sold out for the entire run. And you will find magical moments in this play as well. Here is one of those gems: - “People rarely remember last nights names.” Here is another: - “I Love Kip, but I’m not in love with Kip!” And that’s typical Williams.

THE ACTORS ARE “An unqualified Triumph!” They are – Aaron Wilton (August), Kayal Khanna (Kip), Gwen Kingston (Clare/Celeste), Jeff Biddle (Maurice/Bugsy) and Maryssa Wanlass -- (Nurse/Hazel/Caroline/Tallulah).

JOHN FISHER has directed a profound and intensely erotic classic. 


RATING: Three Glasses of Champagne!!! –trademarked –

(((Lee Hartgrave has contributed many articles to the San Francisco Chronicle Sunday Datebook and he produced and hosted a long running Arts Segment on PBS KQED)))


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