Clothes for a Summer Hotel
By Tennessee Williams; Directed by Cyndy A. Marion
Off-Off-Broadway, Play, Revival
Runs through 2.21.10
Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 West 26th Street
by Tzipora Kaplan on 2.10.10
Kristen Vaughan as Zelda Fitzgerald and Peter J. Crosby as F. Scott Fitzgerald in Clothes For A Summer Hotel.
BOTTOM LINE: Not one of Mr. Williams' best works.
There are some cases where lost and forgotten theatrical treasures should stay buried. Clothes for a Summer Hotel
, written by Tennessee Williams in 1980 and re-produced here by White Horse Theater Company (normally superlative and inventive producers) is one such example.
I know I spit on the name of American Theatre when I say this, but I've never been a huge fan of Tennessee Williams. Even barring my personal dislike of his writing, this play is a lumbering, meandering, clunky and klutzy elephant that goes nowhere. Oh, and dead boring too.
The plot of Clothes for a Summer Hotel centers on the imagined final meeting between F. Scott Fitzgerald (author of "The Great Gatsby") and his wife Zelda. Set at the gates of the asylum where Zelda was institutionalized before her death by fire in 1948, Scott pleads for reconciliation while Zelda blames him for her failed writing career and ensuing madness. There's a variety of flashbacks illustrating the couple's indifference to each other, and their eventual adultery, Zelda with her young french pilot, and Scott in a supposed homosexual relationship with Ernest Hemingway. If you couldn't tell from the above description, I felt like I was watching some really bad fanfiction.
I shouldn't critique the technical production too much, as the material is so poor it's hard for me to imagine any context where it would be well served. So I'll keep my comments brief. The actors worked hard, maintaining that kind of fierce energy for 2 hours is not easy. The show design is as odd and uneven as the script, although knowing Mr. Williams and his penchant for over-articulating his artistic vision, I would lay money that most to of all the choices on stage were his, and thusly, there's not much an otherwise able artistic staff can do.
Choose better next time, White Horse! I'm still a devotee, just a disappointed one.
(Clothes for a Summer Hotel
plays at the Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 West 26th Street, between 9th & 10th Aves.) Performances are Tuesday through Saturday at 8pm and Sunday at 3pm with an additional performance on Saturday, February 20 at 2pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased online at smarttix.com
or by calling 212-868-4444. For more information, visit whitehorsetheater.com