The Artistic Home presents THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA, the first production in their new artistic home. Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon is having a nervous breakdown. He had an affair with a Sunday school teacher. And now his congregation hates him. So, he runs away to Puerto Vallarta and drags a bus of sight-seers with him. They pay him to lead them to a tropical paradise. He takes them to his favorite haven which is not the brochure-promised accommodation. And now the tourists hate him. His tranquility is disturbed by the needs of three very different women; the widow, the artist and the girl. These ladies don’t hate him…yet. Plus, there are Nazis vacationing in the next room and an iguana tied up under the porch. Shannon is at the end of his rope, now what? THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA brings the heat on one man’s road trip through hell.
Playwright Tennessee Williams fleshed out an array of characters and situations for this hearty composition. Some of the soliloquies are long-winded. Some of the symbolism is over explained. Still, Williams created compelling intermingled stories and thought-provoking conclusions. Knowing about Williams’ unhappy personal life and having the privilege to see quite a few of his plays recently, I’m blown away by his mastery in intimately connecting the audience to true human anguish. Under the expert direction of Kathy Scambiatterra, this talented cast morph into these distinct personas.
In the lead, John Mossman (Shannon) attacks this role with limitless fervor. A compelling Mossman is this blustery emotional whirlwind. His choices are perfectly erratic keeping the audience transfixed on his every movement. The ladies contrast Mossman nicely: a confident, bold Miranda Zola (Maxine), a gentle, steadfast Kelly Owens (Hannah) and the precocious, perky Elizabeth Argus (Charlotte). In particular, Owens, with a beautifully soothing and even voice, anchors their scenes to allow Mossman to rip through an impressive range of vocal turmoil. Another standout is the charming Walter Brody (Nonno) playing an aging poet trying to complete his final verse. Scambiatterra stages this production with well-paced activity layering over the drama; ukulele playing, iguana chasing and Nazis cavorting. She effectively inserts the regular and unexpected appearance of this German foursome (Eustace Allen, Irene Servose, Ryan David Heywood, Mykal Smith). With limited lines and chuckling in apathy, the Nazis add bursts of stinging humor in their 1940s bathing suits. Costume Designer Lynn Sandberg does a stylish job bringing the vintage personality to each of the many characters.
Especially for their first show in their new Artistic Home, THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA christens the space with a stellar production! The welcome mat is out. This storefront is open. THE NIGHT OF THE IGUANA is an excellent reason to figure out the commute to the new The Artistic Home.
Running Time: Two hours and thirty minutes includes an intermission
The Artistic Home, 1376 W. Grand
Written by Tennessee Williams
Directed by Kathy Scambiatterra
Thursdays at 7:30pm
Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm
Sundays at 5pm
Thru May 25th
Buy Tickets at www.theartistichome.org
Photo courtesy of Tim Knight