Summer and Smoke Almeida Theatre Four stars Book Now Despite the poetic beauty of Tennessee Williams’s writing, at the height of his success, his dramas were rooted in reality, whether a St Louis apartment or a plantation home in the Deep South. His rarely produced 1948 play Summer and Smoke is set in the small, gossip-ridden Mississippi town of Glorious Hill which, according to the writer’s detailed notes, was to be clearly represented on stage, from American Gothic architecture to a public park presided over by the statue of an angel. But modern directors have been inspired by the fluid, dream-like qualities of Williams’s plays, especially his later work, to take a more abstract approach, which reaches sublime heights under director Rebecca Frecknall and designer Tom Scutt in a stunning new production at the Almeida. Nine upright pianos, each topped by a metronome, line the back of the otherwise stripped-back … Read more
Nadia Fall has misunderstood the play and, by seeking to make her mark on it, has come dangerously close to obliterating its impact. Bad casting and bad direction, however, is not enough to completely scupper Wertenbaker’s great play. In the end, the magical words she wrote come through – overcoming lightweight performances, an indulgent set, too grand a space and some interesting, but tiresomely intrusive, music.