The West End transfer of the Rebecca Frecknall’s remarkable Almeida Theatre’s sell-out production of Tennessee Williams’ ‘most neglected work’, SUMMER AND SMOKE continues at the Duke of York’s until Saturday.
Set in a small Mississippi town one hundred years ago it centres on Alma Winemiller, a minister’s daughter and singing teacher who cares for her ailing mother, and her moth-like attraction to John Buchanan, an angry and resentful trainee doctor. It’s a devastating fable of half-requited love, missed moments and the ways we waste what little life we have, summarised in the byline, ‘Trapped between desire and a life of obligation, Alma meets John and her world turns upside-down.’
In his Variety review, Matt Trueman wrote, “It boasts two phenomenal performances at its heart: Patsy Ferran is a quiver of anxiety as Alma; Matthew Needham’s John, a river of despair. You will them together, knowing full well they’re bound to tear each other apart. It’s agonising to watch.”
Patsy and Matthew both signed my sketch late last year at the theatre.
Irishman Brian Gleeson, together with father Brendan and older brother Domhnall form a formidable family trio of actors. Since starting his career in 2006 alongside his father in John Boorman’s THE TIGER’S TAIL, Brian has balanced his work between stage and screen. All three actually appeared on the Dublin boards together for four weeks in Enda Walsh’s THE WALWORTH FARCE in 2015.
He is currently playing Brick’s (Jack O’Connell) conspirational brother Gooper in the Young Vic’s West End revival of Tennessee William’s CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF at the Apollo, where he signed my sketch for me last week.
Dublin-born and Golden Globe nominated actor Colm Meaney has returned to the West End boards after a ten-year absence, playing plantation patriarch Big Daddy in Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize winning drama CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF. The Young Vic production directed by Benedict Andrews is currently playing the Apollo until October. Colm, known to Trekkies as Chief Petty Officer Miles O’Brien in STAT TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and DEEP SPACE NINE.
Colm’s last London stage appearance was in Eugene O’Neill’s A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN opposite Kevin Spacey at The Old Vic in the Autumn of 2006. He signed this sketch of him as Big Daddy a few weeks ago at the stage door before a Saturday matinee.
I sketched 26 year old English actress Vanessa Noola Kirby – or ‘Noo’ as she is known (“no one ever calls me Vanessa,” she says) in her role as the endearing Stella opposite Gillian Anderson‘s Blanche Dubois in Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire at London’s Old Vic during the late summer.
I didn’t manage to have the drawing signed at the theatre in person, so sent it to her. She autographed and returned it quicker than I’ve ever known… a matter of hours, and Royal Mail redeemed its reputation. Quick sums up Noo. Her short but stellar career has quickly launched her on the right trajectory. It was another ‘Stella’ part that introduced her to the masses, enchanting TV audiences as Estella also opposite Gillian in the BBC’s Great Expectations in 2011.
Tennessee Williams 1947 Pulitzer Prize winning play A Streetcar Named Desire had a hugely acclaimed revival at London’s Donmar Warehouse from July to October in 2009.
It featured Oscar winner Rachel Weisz as the drunken, pretentious Southern belle, Blanche DuBois; Ruth Wilson as her self-effacing sister, Stella Kowalski and Elliot Cowan as Stanley Kowalski, the primal, brutish husband. All three signed for me in September 2009.
The first West End staging starred Vivien Leigh and was directed by her husband Laurence Olivier in 1949.
Both Rachel (Best Actress) and Ruth (Best Supporting Actress) won Olivier awards for their performances.