Review: The Night of the Iguana (The Artistic Home)

| April 3, 2013
John Mossman and Miranda Zola star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)         
       
The Night of the Iguana 

Written by Tennessee Williams 
Directed by Kathy Scambiatterra
Artistic Home Theatre, 1376 W. Grand (map)
thru May 5 May 25  |  tickets: $32   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review 
     


     
       

Now extended through May 25th

Artistic Home christens space with sexy, steamy reptilian heat

     

Ryan David Heywood, Mykal Smith, Eustace Allen, Irense Servose and John Mossman star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)

    
The Artistic Home presents
    
Night of the Iguana

Review by Catey Sullivan 

You can practically feel the torpid steam rising from the set (and the characters) of the Artistic Home’s staging of Night of the Iguana. Tennessee Williams’ south-of-the-border portrait of a defrocked preacher on the verge of a nervous breakdown and his dubious search for haven in scruffy hotel run by the earthily sensual and brassily amoral Maxine becomes a tragic-comedy of turgid sexuality and patently symbolic reptiles.

Walter Brody and Kelly Owens star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)Directed by Artistic Home’s Artistic Director Kathy Scambiatterra and starring her husband John Mossman as the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, a down-on-his-luck (and faith) ex-man of the cloth, this is a staging both sweaty and sprawling, from the shirtless houseboys who service the hotel (and Maxine) to the persistently amorous, naïve and relentlessly marriage-minded 17-year-old Shannon has made the mistake of deflowering.

As Shannon, Mossman provides the messy, white-hot nexus of Night of the Iguana with a performance defined by restless, occasionally violent physicality and the sort of wild-eyed panic you might glimpse in an unhappily caged animal. Since losing his preacher credentials (for advocating heresy from the pulpit and bedding underage congregants), he’s hit the road in a last-ditch attempt to salvage a career by escorting Bible study groups through scenic (and not-so) tours of Mexico.

He shows up at Maxine’s run-down establishment with his bus load of buttoned-up Christian ladies in tow, pockets the bus key and frenetically announces that he will not be leaving the hammock in the hotel’s front yard (such as it is) for at least several days. This ignites the ire of chief church lady Miss Judith Fellowes (Jane DeLaubenfels), a perfectly draconian Puritan of a woman), who is as spitting mad about the not-on-the-official-itinerary stop as she is about Shannon’s recent coupling with the precocious teen Charlotte Goddall (Elizabeth Argus). Young Charlotte is certain that she’ll marry the one-time clergyman. Shannon, for his part, is in such a state of emotional meltdown that he can’t plan for the next five minutes much else wrap his mind around the prospect of a lifetime commitment to a child bride. His life and failures have completely overwhelmed him, but no matter how hard he tries to seclude himself in that hammock, the real world keeps crashing in.

What happens over the course of a few days at Maxine’s low-rent Costa Verde Hotel is a clash of personalities, spirituality and sensuality, punctuated by the truly repulsive periodic intrusions of a clan of German Nazis (this is set in 1940) whose raucous promenades in vintage bathing suits (nice work by costume designer Lynn Sandberg) serves to underline the spirit of hedonism that seems to be both poisoning and enlivening the place . Then there’s that iguana of the title, tied up under the porch of the hacienda, at the end of his rope and frantically trying to break free. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see the symbolism here – Shannon and the Iguana are of a piece.

John Mossman and Jane DeLaubenfels star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)

Night of the Iguana radiates outward from Mossman’s wholly committed performance, riding waves of despair, absurdity and carnality with dizzying speed. Scambiatterra has wisely surrounded her leading man with an ensemble of equally colorful supporting players. As Hannah Jelkes, a refined young sketch artist who shows up with her nonagenarian poet grandfather, Kelly Owens brings a steely grace and dignity to the proceedings, something that is hilariously contrasted with the constantly marauding Germans and the shrill condemnations and strident threats of Miss Fellowes . Elizabeth Argus’ teenage temptress is equal parts hen-pecking demands and desperate school-girl crush while Miranda Zola’s pragmatic, short-tempered and unapologetically sensual Maxine provides a wonderful counterpoint to Shannon’s increasingly distraught outbursts.

Night of the Iguana was Williams’ last great play, and it taps into the themes that define so much of his earlier work – dying dreams, frustrated sexuality, lost-souls being shaped and changed by the turgid, tropical heat that surrounds them.

Scambiatterra clearly has a keen understanding of the play and its characters. And with Mossman setting its center boil, Night of the Iguana has heat to spare.

  
Rating: ★★★½
  
   

The Night of the Iguana continues through May 5th May 25th at Artistic Home Theatre, 1376 W. Grand (map), with performances Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays 3pm.  Tickets are $32, and are available by phone (866-811-4111) or online through OvationTix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at TheArtisticHome.org(Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, includes an intermission)

John Mossman, Mark ViaFranco and Michael Leon star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)

Photos by Tim Knight


     

artists

cast

John Mossman (Reverend Shannon), Miranda Zola, Elizabeth Argus, Kelly Owens, Eustace Allen, Walter Brody, Jane deLaubenfels, Ryan Heywood, Hank Hilbert, Michael Leon, Irene Servose, Mykal Smith, Eric Simon.

behind the scenes

Kathy Scambiatterra (director), Lynn Sandberg (costumes), Ira Amyx (set), Garvin Jellison (lighting), Adam Smith (sound design), Skye Shrum (stage manager); T.C. Knight (photos)

John Mossman and Kelly Owens star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)   John Mossman and Michael Leon star in The Artistic Home's "The Night of Iguana" by Tennessee Williams, directed by Kathy Scambiatterra. (photo credit: T.C. Knight)

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Category: 2013 Reviews, Artistic Home, Catey Sullivan, Tennessee Williams

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