Thursday, 8 August 2013

Sweet Bird of Youth

Went to the Old Vic the other night to see Tennessee Williams' late shocker Sweet Bird of Youth, starring none other than Sex and the City's Kim Cattrall as Alexandra del Lago. I'd never seen this before, though I've seen a couple other of Williams' classics. I'd forgotten just what melodramatic and over-the-top potboilers they are, and this one is no exception - indeed it might even be one of his most extreme. It's really good, though, and very funny, with some superbly caustic one-liners and moments of almost slapstick comedy. The whole thing actually teeters on the edge of farce, but is prevented from going there by the wonderfully dank, humid, Southern Gothic atmosphere that Williams does so well. I'm aware of Kim Cattrall's reputation as an actress but I'm not sure I've ever actually seen her in anything before. Here she is a revelation, brilliantly portraying a used-up, broken woman who's only kept going by the memories of her past glories.  Playing opposite her is young American Seth Numrich, who has really divided the critics. I thought he was great. All the principals were good, in fact - this kind of stuff works best if you really ham it up, and they fair chew up the scenery. The production design, music and sound are all excellent too and really help to enhance the atmosphere of the piece. Well worth catching. Two thumbs up.

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