I adore Tennessee Williams and am always excited by the opportunity to watch a play of his that I haven’t seen performed before, especially somewhere like The Print Room, which excels at rediscovering old and slightly dusty treasures such as ‘A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur’.
Set in 1930s St Louis on a sweltering summer’s day, Creve Coeur tells the story of Dorothea, a woman of indeterminate age, as she waits for a ‘phone call from the man of her dreams, all the while fending off unsolicited advice and unwanted visits from her landlady, upstairs neighbour and a work colleague / would-be future room mate.
So, a play about women, featuring only women – but written by a man who had a genuine understanding of the restrictions and limitations confronting women at the time the play is set. Few writers are able to get to the heart of human nature in the way that Tennessee Williams does, and although Creve Coeur gets off to a slightly creaky start you’re soon drawn into this tale of hope, disillusionment, loneliness and the bonds that connect us as human beings, however tenuous.
All four actresses are excellent and play their roles to perfection, but Laura Rogers as Dorothea is particularly good, veering between optimism, vulnerability and slightly hysterical humour. Your heart aches for her as she teeters around her apartment, a little the worse for wear, hoping against hope that today will be the day that her prince will arrive to take her away from a life spent struggling to make ends meet and avoiding friends’ well-intentioned efforts to pair her off with any man in the immediate vicinity. With Dorothea, you get to see the cracks appearing on the surface – and for me, this is one of the things at which Tennessee Williams excels, capturing those piercing moments of fear: is this all there is? Shouldn’t life have more to offer?
Does Dorothea’s prince arrive in the end, I hear you ask? I’ll leave you to figure that out for yourselves, but bear in mind that this is Tennessee Williams, for whom the course of true love very rarely runs true…