Tennessee Williams called “The Two-Character Play” “my most beautiful play since ‘Streetcar.’ ”
Written in 1967, and revised constantly during the final years of Williams’ life, it follows a brother and sister act as they find themselves abandoned by their company, isolated and locked in by their distrust of the outside world.
Their insularity and dependency mirrors that of a world emerging from a global pandemic, said Laurie Thomas, Fusion director.
Fusion is staging the play from May 4-14.
The play is prophetic in depicting that sense of isolation that results in a mistrust of people and a collective trauma, Thomas said.
“There’s definitely an autobiographical foundation – his relationship with his sister Rose,” Thomas continued. “It lifts beyond the autobiographical and goes into who we become when a traumatic incident occurs, especially in childhood. And how they move forward.”
Brother and sister Felice (Ross Kelly) and Clare (Jacqueline Reid) experienced the violent death of a family member.
On top of that, their theater company goes broke and can’t pay their actors.
“But the insinuation is that both of them have lost their grip on life,” Thomas said.
Williams injects the play with a play-within-the play and an almost Hitchcockian sense of suspense.
“There’s a bit of the old-fashioned who-did-it,” Thomas added. “I think he was trying to expand himself as a writer. Writers like Samuel Beckett were changing around the structure.”
Williams (1911-1983) explored passion with daring honesty and forged a poetic theater of raw psychological insight that shattered conventional proprieties and transformed the American stage. The autobiographical “The Glass Menagerie” brought what Williams called “the catastrophe of success,” a triumph capped by “A Streetcar Named Desire,” one of the most influential works of modern American literature.