Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2015-10-07
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


Sweet Bird of Youth
by Jonathan Abarbanel, Windy City Times

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Playwright: Tennessee Williams. At: Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn. Tickets: 1-312-443-3800;; $27-$88. Runs through: Oct. 28

Virtually every Tennessee Williams character is corrupt and hypocritical. His heroes and heroines—frequently social outsiders—acknowledge their corruption and attempt to redeem themselves, while insiders and power-holders do not acknowledge their moral degeneracy. Williams isn't really interested in corruption by money and power. Rather, it always comes down to sex and love in his plays. Sex corrupts, love transfigures and you rarely have both together.

Sweet Bird of Youth centers on sexually alluring Chance Wayne, a 29-year-old gigolo returning to his Gulf Coast home town with an aging movie star with Hollywood clout, Alexandra Del Lago. Chance antagonizes almost everyone and then sacrifices himself—in a literal physical sense—as a form of redemption when he realizes he has destroyed his one pure love, the aptly named Heavenly Finley, daughter of powerful political boss Tom Finley.

Chance Wayne, however, isn't easy to like. He's a self-destructive romantic who pours oil on the fires he lights, a man of ample worldly experience who nonetheless remains naive to common sense. But he does understand and accept his hypocrisies, unlike Boss Finley and his thuggish followers. (Set in the Deep South in 1959, Finley also represents hard-core racist views.)

The play also opens with an hour-long getting-to-know-you waltz between Chance and Del Lago, requiring audiences to focus intimately on two characters before you even know them or meet any other important figures. This is a good way to lose an audience.

Hot-button director David Cromer keeps his audience because he has real-life stars Finn Wittrock and Diane Lane as Chance and Del Lago, displaying their ample legit acting chops in sharp performances. Wittrock takes Chance's self-absorption and detached reality to scary-but-riveting heights, while Lane smartly underplays Del Lago without making her weak. In Del Lago, the manipulative Wayne has met his match and she knows it before he does. Lane need not act the diva to make the point as "monster meets monster," as Del Lago puts it.

Beyond his leads, Cromer tackles Sweet Bird in his usual singular manner. He moves a scene from Act II to Act III, uses non-realistic instantaneous lighting changes to isolate actors or turn day to night, and dwarfs characters in James Schuette's massive, semi-realistic sets. The results are vivid but cold.

Adjusting the act structure allows Cromer to use intermissions to separate the outsider hypocrites (Chance and Del Lago) from the insiders (Boss Finley and gang) with great intellectual clarity. However, clarity ain't emotional warmth. Schuette's mostly white scenery amplifies the chill. Although airy (no solid walls), the size and classical forms of doorways and windows, coupled with a sweeping metallic cyclorama, suggest sepulchral marble. These characters are entombed, which may be a proper judgment.

facebook twitter pin it stumble upon digg google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Northlight Theatre takes audiences to 'Charm' school 2015-10-07
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Creating 'Charm' 2015-10-07
Upcoming theater: 'Avenue Q'; 'Honeymoon' 2015-10-07
THEATER REVIEW East of Eden 2015-10-07
THEATER REVIEW Sucker Punch 2015-10-07
THEATER REVIEW Scream, Queen, Scream! 2015-10-07
THEATER REVIEW A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder 2015-10-07
Theater Spotlight and Critics' Picks 2015-10-07
BOOKS Read this! Chatting with 'I Hope My Mother...' author Greg Scarnici 2015-10-07
THEATER All Girl Dracula: Interview with the vampire and a director 2015-10-07
Upcoming: Dance judge to host event; 50 States; fusion dance concert; Katrina play 2015-10-06
THEATER REVIEW Love and Information 2015-10-06
NUNN ON ONE: THEATER Matt Leisy: A perfect 'Gentleman' 2015-10-06
Newly eligible theaters take Equity Jeff awards 2015-10-05
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT A 'Marvin's Room' milestone 2015-09-30
THEATER REVIEW Disgraced 2015-09-30
THEATER REVIEW Miss Buncle's Book 2015-09-30
THEATER REVIEW Funnyman 2015-09-30
THEATER REVIEW Gem of the Ocean 2015-09-30
Theater Spotlight and Critics' Picks 2015-09-30
Charm play features look at transgender charm school 2015-09-29
Chicago Humanities Fest presents Four Women: Josephine, Eartha, Nina and Tina 2015-09-24
THEATER REVIEW The Revel 2015-09-23
Theater: Now on stage and soon to open 2015-09-23
Jane Lynch dates rescheduled 2015-09-23
Chicago Theater still thrives, still evergreen 2015-09-23
THEATER REVIEW Dogfight 2015-09-23
Theater Spotlight and Critics' Picks 2015-09-23
THEATER REVIEW The Tempest 2015-09-23
THEATER REVIEW Side Show 2015-09-23
THEATER REVIEW The Producers 2015-09-23
SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Silk Road's many strands 2015-09-23
Harris Theater: World premiere with Renee Fleming, Patricia Barber 2015-09-22
Alexandra Billings to headline PFP's Simply Sensational Benefit 2015-09-22
Victory Gardens Theater launches Directors Inclusion Initiative 2015-09-18
Trans rally at movie theater Sept. 20 2015-09-18
FALL THEATER SPECIAL Premieres galore 2015-09-16
THEATER REVIEW Katrina: Mother-in- Law of 'em All 2015-09-16
THEATER REVIEW American Idiot 2015-09-16
THEATER REVIEW How the World Began 2015-09-16

Copyright © 2015 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.








About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group produces Windy City Queercast, & publishes Windy City Times,
The Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community,
Nightspots, Out! Resource Guide, and Identity.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.