Saturday, July 16, 2016


Brian Burke, Susan Priver, Daniel Felix de Weldon
Photo by Michael Lamont
Tennessee Williams' KINGDOM OF EARTH opened tonight at The Odyssey Theatre Ensemble.

Production  holds few surprises as we engage Williams' hapless characters echoing familiar other characters in the playwright's ouvre.  John Iacovelli's two level set with winding staircase to Mama Lottie's boudoir welcomes the audience through a veil of fog and the threat of a major flood pounding the levy as the maelstrom rages along the Mississippi Delta. "Wood's Colt" Chicken (Brian Burke), half brother to Lot (Daniel Felix de Weldon) has the blood of a dark skinned paramour to his Daddy Ravenstock who also sired half brother 'blonde by choice' Lot, who sashays in with his new 'bride' Myrtle (Blowsy Susan Priver). Lot is just out of the hospital. It's unclear if it was the booby hatch or where he was being treated for his advancing TB. 

As the storm rages,  Lot and Myrtle, a ringer for  Blanche DuBoise, blow into the family manse. Myrtle used to be in Show Bizness.  She is now 'married' to Lot and hopes to have her own piece of real estate.  The property  may or may not actually belong to her new husband.

Thick southern accents and playing to the back wall of the theater makes Kingdom of Earth a beautiful exercise in the extremes that Williams' work calls for. Nothing subtle. The performances are Gothic.  The literal oozing of sexuality from Myrtle as she finds herself in the clutches of Chicken is palpable. The storm rages. The levy weakens. Sound Effects by John Nobori are great! Lot  emerges from the closet and with his last gasps, sends up a tribute to his dead mother. It's  pure Tennessee Williams.

Michael Arabian's direction deftly keeps the flow.  As one of the more obscure (at least to me) of Williams'  theatricals, to be immersed once more in the cloying humidity of the South and the drama within the drama makes this one work.  Another reviewer decided to dish the show as we headed for the food. His having seen Estelle Parsons in the original 1968 production. I'm sure that the original cast with Brian Bedford and Harry Guardino were great. Estelle was nominated for a Tony!  I enjoyed Priver's performance.  
This guest production deserves an audience. Bring a sweater!  

(The Seven Descents of Myrtle) 
by Tennessee Williams
Odyssey Theatre Ensemble
2055 S. Sepulveda Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Through August 14, 2016
Tickets and Information: 
310  477 2055

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