in the relative cool of the funky little Fountain Theatre, the heat
from four actors, each in his/her own little zone of Tennessee Williams,
is palpable. Opening night for the stage version of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Williams' expanded one act adapted by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann from Williams' screenplay, Baby Doll,
under the steady hand of Simon Levy doles out expected passion on
Jeffrey MacLaughlin's Mississippi Delta set. A familiar iron crib holds
woman child, Baby Doll (Lindsay LaVanchy) as she strikes the familiar
Carroll Baker pose made famous in Elia Kazan's movie of the same name.
It's the eve of Baby Doll's twentieth birthday and she has somehow
gotten married to the older and tougher Archie Lee (John Prosky) who at
rise is sawing a peep hole through the wall of the dilapidated old manse
where they are sinking into financial ruin.
thing about being steeped in Tennessee Williams right now is that the
power and dilapidation of his scenarios and his characters: tough and
vulnerable; strong and sexy; troubled and aggressive as well as morally
questionable, like characters from Commedia, we recognize Blanche and
Stanley, Big Daddy and Brick, Maggie the Cat.. and then enjoy how the
story evolves with thick southern accents and broad strokes. There's
nothing subtle about this one. Karen Kondazian as Aunt Rose Comfort is
seasoning for the gumbo. Pixilated and homeless, her efforts to stay on
board with Archie and Baby Doll are endearing. The main course for all
the heat is, of course, the arrival, with riding crop in hand, of
Daniel Bess as Silva Vacarro. Vacarro's cotton gin is the unfortunate
victim of an arson fire, the source of which we all know. The dance of
seduction between Silva and Baby Doll is obvious and inevitable.
romance of Williams' words in and of themselves is seductive. When Baby
Doll invites Silva to take a nap, apologizing for the size of her iron
crib, he smiles and says, "Any flat surface is suitable for slumber."
And, the predictability of the plot moves quickly and assuredly thanks
to Levy's decisive hand. Bombast and seduction, a theme for Williams
from time to time. That's what this one is all about. It's a must see
for those who love the heat.
BABY DOLL By Tennessee Williams Adapted for the stage from his screenplay by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann
The Fountain Theatre 5060 Fountain Avenue Los Angeles, California 90029 Through September 25, 2016 Tickets and Information 323 663 1525 www.fountaintheatre.com