By Aline Mahrud
WORTH A LOOK?: ***
WHEN?: Saturday 28 May 2022, opens 31 May and runs to 27 August 2022 RUNTIME: 145 minutes (including 20-minute interval)
We’re in a lengthy queue for the toilets at this venue in the interval when we overhear someone asking: ‘Do you think Amy Adams is hoarse?’
- Read on for reasons including how both Paul Hilton and Tom Glynn-Carney shine here
We don’t think she is but we are struggling to hear her and we are in the 5th row of this 642-seat West End venue.
It reminds us of seeing Andrew Scott in Birdland in 2014 when we were up in the gods at the Royal Court Theatre and he went on to win our Best Theatre Actor monsta years later for his Hamlet which transferred from the Almeida into the West End.
Sometimes actors who achieve success on TV or film find it difficult to summon up the projection required to convince in a large theatre venue.
It is all the more frustrating because Adams’ enviable CV is the reason why we are here, she is best known for film roles for which she has been nominated 6 times for an Oscar including Vice, American Hustle and Arrival.
We last saw this Tennessee Williams classic in the West End in a memorable version in 2017 at this very venue and Adams plays domineering and manipulative mother Amanda Wingfield who despairs of her drunken son Tom with literary aspirations and wants to find a ‘gentleman caller’ for her shy daughter Laura in 40’s Mississippi.
It’s a terrific role and Adams is funny but we felt that while there is much else that surrounds it that is impressive, the fact that it is underpowered here, is a disappointment.
Director Jeremy Herrin (All My Sons, Old Vic) has his cast enter through a lift door as though this is a play within a play and the players prowl the action at the side of the stage in this memory play.
Paul Hilton (The Inheritance, Young Vic) is particularly affecting as the narrator and older son. Tom Glynn-Carney as Amanda’s younger son in the play also convinces as someone with aspirations to leave a dead-end job to pursue the work that they love.
We were less convinced by the awkward daughter played by Lizzie Annis but her scenes with Victor Alli’s ‘gentleman caller’ were heartbreaking as hope was swiftly scuppered.
It’s a strong production then let down by the Hollywood star making her less than convincing West End debut in what should have been a scene-stealing role.