THE TWO-CHARACTER PLAY a smash hitat Rhino PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT a minor Tennessee Williams play GOD'S PLOT at Shotgun a Hit

Pictured from left to right: Ryan Tasker as Felice and Alexandra Creighton as Clare in The Two-Character Play by Tennessee Williams. A Theatre Rhinoceros production at The Eureka Theatre. Costumes by Christine U'Ren, photo by Kent Taylor.

THE TWO-CHARACTER PLAY: Drama. By Tennessee Williams. Directed by John Fisher. Theatre Rhinoceros, Eureka Theatre, 215 Jackson St., San Francisco. (800) 838-3006 or Through January 15, 2012.

What a difference three hours can make. Due to personal time constraints it was necessary and convenient to see rarely produced, and diametrically opposite genres of two of Tennessee Williams’ plays. For the matinee there was the pleasure of SF Playhouse’s production Period of Adjustment and for the evening there was the engrossing dramatic revival of The Two-Character Play by Theatre Rhinoceros at the Eureka Theatre.

Period of Adjustment opened in 1960 and was Williams’ only comedy and six years later, he had to undergo his period of adjustment due to severe depression after the death of Frankie Merlo, his longtime partner and a late loss of critical acclaim for his plays. The two character play suffered at the hands of the critics when it opened in London in 1967. Since that time it underwent multiple revisions with a successful San Francisco staging in 1975 directed by Lyle Leverich.

The characters are Felice ( Ryan Tasker) actor, playwright and company manager and his drug dependent temperamental sister Clare (Alexandra Creighton). Felice is constantly peeking through the non-existent curtain at a non-existing audience. They are without money and the play they continue to perform is probably the re-living of their lives in memory. Their unnamed insane father was an astrology who shot his wife (their mother) and committed suicide with the youngsters watching.

When the play opens it is 40 years later and the memory is still with them and they re-enact that fateful scene. They cannot move past that mind altering event. Felice is working on his great masterpiece, a play called “The Two-Character Play” – where they act out the trauma inflicted during the aftermath of their tragedy. The two characters in the play within the play are brother and sister actors who have been abandoned by their traveling company in an unnamed town. They are continually, performing, rehearsing and rewriting “the two character play” because they are trapped in the story of their lives. Neither of them want the play to end and because they are unable to accept the reality of the past. There are multiple layers of intrigue, mystery, fantasy, devastating memories, fear and sexual innuendo within the story line that is sometimes confusing but always riveting.

John Fisher’s direction is painstakingly marvelous and the fine performances by Alexandra Creighton and Ryan Tasker create depth to Tennessee’s poetic, tortured lines. Running time 2 hours and 20 minutes with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of


Patrick Alparone (George) fights with wife MacKenzie Meehan (Isabel) as Johnny Moreno (Ralph) looks on.

PERIOD OF ADJUSTMENT: Comedy. By Tennessee Williams. Directed by Bill English. SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA. (415) 677-9596 or January 14, 2012.

In the 100th year since Tennessee William’s was born the Bay Area and beyond have done homage to his works. Marin Theatre Company did a fantastic job with a re-imagining of The Glass Menagerie and SF Playhouse has mounted an almost brilliant staging of his only comedy Period of Adjustment. The story line is the stuff that TV soap operas are made of but under Bill English’s sharp direction on Nina Ball’s superb two-level set the excellent cast invest their roles with verisimilitude. Although written in 1960, the affliction of a major character, post traumatic stress syndrome, remains eerily relevant in 2012.

The afflicted character is George Haverstick (perfectly played by Patrick Alparone), a Korean War veteran recovering from an undefined “nervous condition”, has impetuously married Isabel (MacKenzie Meehan), whom he met while in the hospital. To her chagrin, they drive to Nashville on their honeymoon in an old Cadillac hearse. During that time, incompatibility rears its ugly head and they end up visiting George’s war buddy Ralph Bates (deftly underplayed by Johnny Moreno).

As luck, actually bad luck would have it, Ralph’s wife Dorothea (Maggie Mason) has walked out on him, taking their son with her. Alas, it is Christmas time thus making the split even more traumatic. Ralph’s over simplistic answer to the Haverstick’s problems is that everyone needs a period of adjustment.

In classic Williams’ fashion, he has given his woman protagonist a long first act monolog defining character while carrying forward the story line. During the excellent delivery of that monolog by Meehan, Moreno’s minimal oral and non-verbal responses make him the perfect sounding board without intrusion.

There is a well balanced mixture of humor and tension that lifts the atmosphere beyond the sit-com level. The fact that Bate’s home is built over an abandoned mine and is slowly sinking into the chasm stretches one’s imagination but does add a touch of metaphor to the story line.

We also learn, much later in the second act that Ralph has married the boss’ “homely” daughter as a ploy for professional advancement. There is great animosity between Ralph and his in-laws that creates a sharp but farcical confrontation. The fact that it is Christmas eve adds a touch of poignancy to the action.

It is understandable that this play was not well received but the SF Playhouse staging makes it a must see show for its fine acting and as a historical look at a different Tennessee Williams. Running time about 2 hours with intermission.

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of


GOD’S PLOT: Written and directed by Mark Jackson. Ashby Stage, 1901 Ashby, Berkeley, CA. (510) 841-6500 or Through January 29, 2012

Mark Jackson burst onto the Bay Area theatrical scene in 2003 with his The Death of Meyerhold, produced by the Shotgun Players. Since that time Jackson has become a frequent contributor to the Shotgun Players. His latest contribution is a commissioned work titled God’s Plot, capping Shotgun’s 20th anniversary season of world premiere new work. Attending a production where the name “Mark Jackson” appears on the program, you are assured of seeing a quirky, intelligent, stimulating play replete with directorial physicality. And so it is with God’s Plot that has been extended through the end of January.

This time around Jackson moves from the Russia of Meyerhold to the American colonies, in the Pungoteague settlement on the eastern shores of Virginia. It is a place with strict moral and religious codes where deviation from those codes and being a Quaker or any other religion can lead to the stockade or even to hanging. His inspiration for his latest opus is the first known play to be produced in the “New World.” The title of that play, Ye Bare and Ye Cubb, a political satire, was written in 1665 and no script has survived. Thus Jackson allows his fertile mind to conceive of a play within a play. He populates the landscape with distinctive characters, and brought aboard Daveen DiGiacomo to write original music.

The story revolves around the preparation and performance of Ye Bare and Ye Cubb and the legal fight that ensued from this satire of Charles II of England’s heavy handed control of the colonies. Jackson seems bent on defining and separating art from politics and does so with humor and a touch of drama obviously making an analogy of this early “rebellion” to the present day Occupy USA movement. There is the playwright William Darby (Carl Holvick-Thomas), who has entered the colony with a false name and identity. He is actively romantically pursuing the headstrong Tyral Pore (Juliana Lustenader) while teaching her the “art” of giving public confession. Darby enlists the services of formerly indentured men Phillip Howard (Will Hand) and Cornelius Watkins (Anthony Nemirovsky) to play the Bare and the Cubb.

Darby, Howard and Watkins become known as the “Accomack Three” and are brought to trial after the closeted Quaker Edward Martin (John Mercer) files a complaint against them for performing a licentious play, especially on the Sabbath. When the trial takes place, the Accomack Three put on a sanitized version for the visiting judge and are acquitted.

Julianna Lustenader gives a vivacious magnetic performance as the brave, outspoken Tryal Pore. She alone breaks out in song to the accompaniment of Josh Pollock on banjo and Travis Kindred bass. Carl Holvick-Thomas exudes a bravura persona as Darby the playwright while the humor is shared by Will hand and Kevin Clark. The entire cast is strong and handle Jackson’s physical direction adroitly.

Nina Ball’s atmospheric church like set with 2 rows of benches for the audience on stage right and left accentuates the feeling of being a voyeur on a chapter of history. Running time 2 hours and 20 minutes with an intermission.

Advice: Well worth a visit. It is almost Jackson at his best and will be with eventual rewrite(s).

Kedar K. Adour, MD

Courtesy of