Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Hauntingly frightening, with characters who will be seared in your memory for ages, you will quickly be caught up in the morbid fascination of Tennessee Williams’ drama set in 1935 New Orleans:  “Suddenly Last Summer.”  Westport Country Playhouse will be casting light on this absorbing play until Saturday, September 10 in honor of the centennial of the playwright.

As chilling as the frozen daiquiri drink that the formidable Mrs. Violet Venable sips every evening precisely at five o’clock, “Suddenly Last Summer” explores the death of her beloved and cherished son Sebastian.  A sensitive poet, Sebastian was a traveler who sought inspiration from his foreign adventures which he took with his mother every year.  Annilee Jeffries is fiercely protective as Mrs. Venable.

When his mother suffers a stroke, he selects his cousin Catherine, an emotionally provocative Liv Rooth, as his new traveling companion.  When they are in Cabeza de Lobo, Spain, Sebastian uses Catherine, just as he previously employed his mother, as a lure to attract the boys he wishes to procure for sexual favors.  An incident at a restaurant one hot scorching day results in a gang of hungry, poverty-stricken boys to turn on Sebastian and chase him.  When they catch him, he is literally torn apart and cannibalized.

Now in the garden of Violet Venable’s wealthy home, Catherine is being interrogated by Dr. Cukrowicz (Lee Aaron Rosen).  She alone knows the true story of Sebastian’s death and Mrs. Venable will go to any lengths to prevent the truth from surfacing, even if it means having Catherine lobotomized.

As witnesses to the doctor’s questioning, Catherine’s mother (Charlotte Maier), brother (Ryan Garbayo), a nun (Tina Stafford) and Mrs. Venable’s secretary (Susan Bennett) serve as an audience, as Catherine reveals, under a truth serum, what actually happened suddenly last summer.  David Kennedy directs this gripping drama.

For tickets ($35-60), call the Westport Country Playhouse, 25 Powers Court, off route 1, Westport at 203-227-4177, 1-888-927-7529 or online at www.westportplayhouse.org.  Performances are Tuesday at 8 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., and Saturday at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Immerse yourself in the intrigue that surrounds the legacy of a perceptive poet as written by his matriarch, even if it has no resemblance to the truth.

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