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Kingdom of Earth - A Tennessee Williams Trilogy at the Rosemary Branch Theatre

Published by: Carolin Kopplin on 12th Sep 2013 | View all blogs by Carolin Kopplin


You want a man living, not dying.

Joining three short plays by Tennessee Wiliams together, Mr. D Theatre presents an exploration into human sexuality, domination, and the pursuit of ownership. The three plays - 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, Talk To Me Like The Rain And Let Me Listen, and Kingdom of Earth - were written across three decades. The trilogy distills the essence of Tennessee Williams and a narrative rich in symbolism emerges about the creation of modern American culture and sexuality.

Joe Layon and Daisy Boulton

Flora leaves her house in a small town in Mississippi when a fire breaks out on the plantation near her residence. When her husband Jake, who owns a cotton gin, returns home he impresses on her that she needs to lie about him being at the house the entire day. The next afternoon, the superintendent of the plantation, Silva, visits the house of a very happy Jake who has been commissioned to transport 27 wagons of cotton in light of the recent fire. Jake brags about this as he leaves. The suspicious Silva approaches Flora to find out the truth about the fire, no matter what.  Flora is a childlike and defenceless woman who is treated like a plaything by her crude husband Jake. She resembles Nora in A Doll's House but unlike Ibsen's heroine she is too weak and dependent to ever consider breaking out of her prison.  

The next segment of the play features a young loafer who spends his time sleeping on a seedy mattress and drinking away his unemployment check while his long suffering girlfriend dreams of leaving him and never coming back. As the rain is falling, she tells the boy about her dream.

The final part of the evening takes place on a small farm in Mississippi. Lot is returning with his new wife Myrtle. Unbeknownst to her Lot is dying and his half-brother Chicken hopes Lot will take his last breath soon so he can inherit the house and be master of the land. Lot's new wife and prospective widow might interfere with his plans so Chicken bluntly tells her that he will only help her up to the roof to save her from the approaching flood if she hands over her marriage licence. As soon as Myrtle realises who is in charge of the bread basket, she focuses on Chicken, dismissing her dying husband. Chicken is a cruel and hard man who doesn't care for the weak: "Life will never be soft." He has been isolated because of the rumour that "Negro blood" is running through his veins and he willingly succumbs to Myrtle's charms, yet never forgetting about his number one objective - ownership of the house and land.

Christopher Hosking's production shows a cruel world that crashes the weak, usually women. Jake and Chicken are rough and crude men without any feeling for others. Joe Layton portrays them with the right dose of machismo and ruthlessness. Daisy Boulton is frail like a trapped bird as Flora and seductive in a very calculating way as Myrtle. Zachary Fall is at first suave and cunning and then sexually threatening as Silva. Francesca David designed a set consisting of sheets and light - shadows are used to great effect to display some of the most unsettling scenes. The costumes are soiled, indicating the seediness of the sordid lives Williams' characters lead.

An intriguing production.

By Carolin Kopplin

DATES: 13th, 15th September 2013
TIME: 7:30pm (Tue-Fri) / 2:00pm & 7.00pm (Sun)
PRICE: £13 / 10 (concessions)
Rosemary Branch Theatre
2 Shepperton Road, London, N1 3DT 


1 Comment

  • Cameron Lowe
    by Cameron Lowe 4 years ago
    Intriguing indeed! Thanks, Carolin
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