“5 X TENN (or so)” Six one-acts by Tennessee Williams at Stone Soup

In addition to writing brilliant full-length plays, Tennessee Williams, was a prolific author of one-acters. Stone Soup’s offering of six of these, written over a number of decades, reveals Williams’ genius as well as his weaknesses. Though the quality of the plays and the productions vary, the program provides an opportunity to see short works that are rarely performed today.

In one of Williams’ later works, “The Municipal Abattoir” we meet a man who’s lost all power to make decisions. As a citizen in a totalitarian state he is submissive even when told to report to the abattoir where he’ll be killed in a gruesome fashion. Advised by others to take steps to avoid the painful death, he refuses. “I do what I’m supposed to do.” Terrence Boyd as the doomed man is appropriately robot-like as he delivers the playwright’s lesson.

My favorite piece is “Kingdom of Earth,” a noir bit of southern dysfunction. The main character, Chicken, played by a sneering, nasty, self-interested Gianni Truzzi, lives in a ramshackle house that he stands to inherit if his half-brother precedes him in death. As torrential rain pours down outside, the brother appears at the door with Myrtle (Brynne Garman), a floozy he has just married. The brother is desperately ill, actually dying. Chicken would like nothing better than that, but the new wife complicates the inheritance. After the brother is half pushed up the stairs, Chicken and Myrtle begin their contretemps. Truzzi is positively creepy as he reveals his viciousness and sexual hungers. Garman imbues her slutty character with a neediness that is wrenching. Their interactions are spellbinding.

“Sunburst” shows an older woman at the mercy of two thugs who want her sunburst diamond. “The Big Game” reveals a hospital scene where life and death play tag. “Chalky White Substance” and “Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen” round out the program.

Directed by Ellen Graham, the program gives evidence of Williams poignant and sometimes darkly comic revelations about human emotions and motivations.

Through March 9, Stone Soup Theatre, 4029 Stone Way N, Seattle, (206 633-1883 or www.stonesouptheatre.org)

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