Artistic Director Kevin Broccoli has chosen Tennessee Williams’ classic one-act play, “Suddenly Last Summer,” to open Epic Theatre’s 2020 year in its intimate space at 50 Rolfe St. in Cranston.
More well known for its 1959 film adaptation starring Elizabeth Taylor, the play takes place in the New Orleans garden of the wealthy Miss Venable (Becky Menard) as she calls Dr. Cukrowicz (Alvaro Beltran) to her home, offering a generous contribution to his research foundation if he performs a lobotomy on her son’s companion.
Catherine Holly (Betsy Rinaldi) was with Sebastian when he died, carrying a deep, dark secret that has landed her in an insane asylum and held up plans for releasing information on the contents of the will.
The doctor administers a truth serum to the already confused Catherine, forcing her to tell the truth about Sebastian’s untimely death. (Director Geoff Leatham, who does an excellent job in placing the characters in a small space, needs to make the doctor’s needle injection more realistic). Hints of homosexuality subtly appear, a theatre rarity in the 1930s, when the play took place. Birds sing in the background, although their voices frequently foreshadow darkness rather than tranquility.
The play, like much of Williams’ work, is a downer, filled with people you won’t like very much, but it will hold your interest until the final revelation.
Betsy Rinaldi carries the heavy load of Catherine Holly, commanding center stage brilliantly as she both verbally and physically tells her story.
While the play is dated, it will still hold your interest as the characters reveal themselves and their motives. The hour and a half goes quickly by to its ultimate conclusion.
“Suddenly Last Summer” is at Epic’s Artist Exchange location, 50 Rolfe St., through January 25. For tickets e-mail artistsexchange.org.