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In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel

Published by: Clare Brotherwood on 13th Apr 2016 | View all blogs by Clare Brotherwood

In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel is a little known play by Tennessee Williams, performed only once since its premiere in 1969.

It’s plain to see why. If it had been written by another, lesser known playwright, it might have been hailed as extraordinary, but from the creator of A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof we expect fiery passion and excitement, which it lacks.

The stage is set for all of this. Fireworks should fly between Mark, an alcoholic painter and, Miriam, his promiscuous wife, but while they have their moments, Linda Marlowe as Miriam is cold and calculating and though she shows signs of vulnerability we never warm to her. David Whitworth’s Mark, on the other hand, gets all of our sympathy as he stumbles around lost in his own psychotic world.

Director and Williams’ devotee Robert Chevara is brave to take on this project. Written at a time when the playwright was depressed at the loss of his partner, his dialogue is disjointed and sentences unfinished, leaving the audience to draw its own conclusions.

The play does have its redeeming features. Set designer Nicolai Hart-Hansen’s hotel bar sweeps majestically into the auditorium, though its rake is pretty steep, and Andrew May’s daylight and scudding clouds through a huge window are convincingly realistic. Occasional splashes of paint don’t quite gel, however.

As the barman, Andrew Koji’s discomfort at Miriam’s advances is palpable, while Alan Turkington’s late entrance as Mark’s art dealer, commanded by Miriam to take Mark back to the US, brings a little normality to the stage.

In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel is at Charing Cross Theatre until May 14.

Box Office: 08444 930 650

www.charingcrosstheatre.co.uk

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