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Tennessee Williams’ 1977 Vieux Carré is a somewhat disjointed but evocative portrayal of his experience living in a rundown boarding house in New Orleans almost forty years earlier.

The fellow boarders of his alter ego - an aspiring, unnamed young writer coming to terms with his homosexuality (Tam Ross Williams) – are a diverse lot, carefully watched by the eccentric, mentally unstable landlady (Nancy Crane) who’s made her bed in the hallway under the piano.

An elderly tubercular painter (David Whitworth) with his succession of young male pickups and refusal to acknowledge that he’s seriously ill, a pair of impoverished old ladies reduced to scavenging in the bins for food, and an ailing society girl having a final fling with a drug-addicted strip club bouncer all share the poky dilapidated residence in the French Quarter.

More a succession of snapshots taken by someone who’s passing through than a fully-fledged play, this depiction of a house mouldering in end-of-the-road loneliness is still worth a visit.

The Broadway premiere only ran for a handful of performances, but Robert Chevara’s well-acted production (aided by Nicolai Hart Hansen’s suitably cramped, dingy design) shows that even when well past his best, Williams’ could still conjure intriguing - if not always completely credible - characters.
 
 
Louise Kingsley
Kings Head Theatre, Upper Street, N1 1QN
Tube: Angel
till  4th August
(£10- £25)
kingsheadtheatre.com

 

Photo: Tim Medley

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Theatre review: Vieux Carre at the Kings Head Theatre
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