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Tennessee Williams' "The Two-Character Play" Stars Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif at New World Stages
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Tennessee Williams' "The Two-Character Play" Stars Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif at New World Stages

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Tennessee Williams'
The Two-Character Play

Starring Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif

Directed by Gene David Kirk

New World Stages
340 West 50th Street
NY, NY 10019

Scenic Design/London Costume Design: Alice Walkling
NY Costume Design: Lara de Bruijn
Sound Design/London Lighting Design: Phillip Hewitt
NY Lighting Design: Jake Fine
Technical Director: Dean Denmon
Fight Director: Rick Sordelet
Casting: Wojcik/Seay Casting
Graphic Design: UVPHACTORY
Advertising: Hofstetter & Partners/Agency 212
Marketing Director/Associate Producer: Ron Johnson, Jr.
Production Stage Manager: Lindsey Alexander
Press Representative: Richard Hillman Public Relations
General Management: Brierpatch Productions

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
September 29, 2013 Matinee

Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif are Claire and Felice, bedeviled sister and brother, who have been performing with a theater troupe, that’s no longer in town. A few minutes into this play, there’s no doubt why the troupe left. This dramatic duo is capable of inebriation, violence, vulgarity, irresponsibility, and that’s for starters. Most of the time they’re performing for each other, in a lifelong sibling rivalry that’s built on family tragedy and tribulation, known only to them. And, some of the time, they’re performing for themselves, in a narcissistic haze of smoke and liquor. The play’s opening and closing passages are in real time, in an undisclosed theater set, that’s reminiscent of Grey Gardens lore, minus the cats. The central focus of the production is the actual “Two-Character Play”, that Claire and Felice perform for the audience and critics that arrive at their theater, in spite of the troupe’s escape. Because the play within the play is said to be lengthy, Claire hits a piano note to signal Felice to skip remaining dialogue, to his annoyance. We hear that note multiple times throughout the play. The other sound we wait for is a shot from a gun, a tense prop, hidden atop the old upright.

Needless to say, the monologues and dialogues are peppered with defiant and derogatory accusations and innuendos, but, at one moment, brother and sister are in tender embrace, and, at another, in a mind game of life or death. Unfortunately, Ms. Plummer’s microphone seemed weak, as I, and, as I heard at intermission, many others nearby, had trouble deciphering her speech. Her character speaks with a strong Southern accent, that’s distorted with alcohol, so a soft, slurring slushiness envelops each word. Mr. Dourif, however, projected well, throughout. Ms. Plummer embodied Claire’s passive aggressive demeanor within and outside Claire’s stage character, much like one would in a dream. It would be hard to define strong differentiations between her two stage selves. She morphed, she slid, and she drank her way through reality and fantasy, with professional poise and prowess. Mr. Dourif, as well, was, at once, nurturing, scolding, affectionate, immature, steady, and restless, a study in contrasts of emotion and behavior. The naturalness of the duo’s history provided space to vent, to reveal, and to regress.

Gene David Kirk directed to epitomize Claire and Felice’s casual, yet competitive sibling relationship. I wish he had paid more attention to Ms. Plummer’s verbal projection for audible clarity. Alice Walkling designed the dreary, threadbare sets and costumes, and Lara de Bruijn designed the New York costumes for this New World Stages presentation. Phillip Hewitt and Jake Fine designed sound and lighting, with sound spotty, as noted, and lighting mostly dim. Once again, kudos to Tennessee Williams.

Amanda Plummer and Brad Dourif in
Tennessee Williams' "The Two-Character Play"
Courtesy of Carol Rosegg

For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at