Summer and Smoke (review)

Summer and Smoke (review)
Summer and Smoke (review)
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THE PLAY: Set in early 20th century Mississippi, this Tennessee Williams drama explores the frustrated romance between an unmarried minister’s daughter and the troublesome young doctor next door.

 

THE PRODUCTION: This production marks Bruce Miller’s final directorial effort after 41-years as Virginia Rep’s Artistic Director and it wonderfully validates his skill in creating a compelling theatrical experience. The untraditional casting is a nod to Barksdale’s history (watch his video interview), with 8 actors under 30 (including 2 teens) playing all the roles. With the richness and maturity of every performance, it never once felt like it was a group of young people. Carolyn Demanelis is a revelation! Her lyrical delivery in the style of the classic Williams heroine is only the beginning of her richly neurotic, always-enthralling Alma. Alexander Sapp creates a charmingly seductive counterpoint that’s equally resonant and gently masterful. Their chemistry is palpable. The 6 supporting actors all create a variety of full-fleshed and interesting characters. Miller has given the show a languid Southern style, allowing the drama (and the extensive conversations) to unfold with engaging grace. Rich Mason has created beautifully theatrical set dominated by a statue and gothic arches draped in moss. BJ Wilkinson’s lighting adds even more visual splendor and Sue Griffin’s costumes are lovely.

 

THE POINT: If you have the patience and maturity to appreciate the understated appeal of a serene approach to Williams, you’ll find this production a beautifully-staged, richly-acted and thoroughly-captivating experience.

 

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

 

A production of Virginia Rep at the November Theatre thru 5/15

 

LISTEN TO MY REVIEW (as aired on WRIR)

 

Cast of Summer and Smoke. Photo by Aaron Sutten.

Cast of Summer and Smoke. Photo by Aaron Sutten.

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