In pure Tennessee Williams fashion, This play had drama, heartbreak, dark humor, disillusionment and big dreams. “Creve” is about a young women, Dorothea (Jean Lichty), who has big dreams about her life. She is a Southern bell, replete with all the Southern charms. She waits on Ralph Ellis, the schools principal where she works as a civics teacher. She has more then a crush on him, they have been intimate with one another. He is considered handsome, from a wealthy family and a great catch. Dorothy does all the right things, exercises, takes care of her sell and is a self respecting individual. She shares an apartment with Body (Kristine Nielsen). Body is a hard working, upbeat person. She comes from good German stock and is a righteous very likeable “salt of the earth person.) She truly loves Dorothy the way she loves her twin brother, Buddy. She wants nothing more then for Buddy and Dorothy to marry. She warns Dorothy about Ralph Ellis, she tells her that he is not for her and Buddy is much more the suitor then Ralph. Body is a simple person but also wise in her ways about people and life. Dorothy being young and ambitious about climbing the social latter is oblivious to Ralf Ellis’s true intentions. She wants romance, a true fairy tale relationship that only the movies provide. Although it is not clear why she moved from Memphis to St Louis, she works the Southern accent to her benefit.
Even though the show is intermission less, the two hours go by quickly. There is a lot in this play, from the cluttered set to the verbiage, the play keeps our interest. The second part of the play is where the plot comes into place. We meet two other characters: Helena (Annette O’Toole) and Miss Gluck (Polly MCKIE). Helena is a fellow teacher who also has a grand opinion of herself and like Dorothy, disillusionment. As an Art teacher, she is fashionable, (strictly discount shopping), conducts herself in proper form, but like Ralph Ellis, she sees an easy mark. When she arrives at the apartment body sees right through her. Helena has found a great duplex in the right part of town and needs someone to help pay for it. helena is so transparent that even Miss Gluck, a German immigrant who speaks hardly any English can see that Helena is hard hearted and deep down, an evil person.
In Williams fashion, we see the characters many conflicts. like “Streetcar” and Glass Menagerie”, we have the women who has designs on what they want there life too be and what they really are. We see border line personality disorder in the mom in “glass” and see the same in Stella in “Waterfront”. Williams is so good in bringing out the deep disturbance in these people, he makes his audience cringe. Like many of his plays we do not know how these socially fraile people are going to act. We they get hostile? Have an emotional breakdown on stage? Williams keeps us guessing and on the edge of our seat. What Williams brings to ” A Lovely Sunday For Creve Coeur” is the conflict of four people. The four people are symmetrical- Body and Miss Gluck are the good, the pure hearted. Helena and Dorothea, the dreamers, the vulnerable, the cunning and the coy. Helena and Dorothy want to be society but they just don’t fit in, people see through them, people see through them the way they see through Helena’s discount clothing.
The very talented Austin Pendleton directed this play. Pendleton keeps the play moving nicely. In Williams spirit, he has us guessing what is around the corner for these four very good actors. We feel for each of them. we feel for what they want and cannot have, what there desperations are and how there past has deeply hurt them. We see how the four should be happy but in reality we see how they are not able to be. Miss Gluck just lost her mother, Body cannot have a child, Helena wants to be society and Dorothy wants true romance with the “right” man. Williams paints the dark for us, he shows us what life is rather then what life could be.
“Creve”, at St Clement’s Church was a perfect place to put this show on. The theater had the right amount of space, both stage and audience for this show to shine.