Like in every classic Tennessee Williams’ play, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur loves to hide in plain sight, mostly behind sarcasm, humor and frivolous mundane chores, how, in life, one should always beware of the beautiful and perfect. However, by representing on stage the life of four different women in the 1930s, it also highlights how their lives only have meaning if there is a man around, showing a perfect image of how society was still deeply rooted in patriarchy.
The whole story is set in a heavily decorated house in the industrial area of St. Louis. Living there, surrounded by dark, flowery wallpaper and horribly clashing, mismatched furniture, live Bodey and Dotty. These two women couldn’t be more different from each other. Bodey is an early middle aged German-American woman who likes to take care of her flatmate in a motherly fashion, Dotty, instead, is a civic teachers who only takes care of her look and figure.
While Bodey is dreaming of nieces and nephews to play with, by finding ways to make Dotty fall in love with her twin brother; on the other hand, Dotty has a different plan of her own. After spending a night with the principal of the school she teaches at, the handsome and wealthy Ralph Ellis, she believes that she could marry him and live happily ever after.
The play starts with Dotty doing some exercise to keep her perfect figure while anxiously waiting for a call from her beloved Ralph. While she is busy thinking and talking about how perfect he is, Bodey is desperately trying to organise a perfect picnic and a “spontaneous” meeting between Buddy, her brother, and Dotty.
While the two are placidly arguing about Dotty’s life choices, they get interrupted by one of Dotty’s fellow teachers, Helena, who came to see her to ask for her part of the rent money for a new apartment, in a much nicer and glamorous area, they would like to rent together.
Helena looks like a wealthy woman and her sarcastic comments directed at Bodey and her picturesque apartment are just one of the many ways in which she is showing how much she is looking down at her life and how lucky is Dotty to finally be able to move. While Bodey is preventing Helena from bursting into Dotty’s room while she is exercising, the duo gets interrupted by Miss Gluck, Bodey’s neighbor who recently lost her mother.
Both Bodey and Helena know something about Ralph that will ruin Dotty’s dream of marrying him, however, while Bodey doesn’t want to upset Dotty in any way, Helena, who just cares about taking her down payment for the apartment, wants to tell her about the news and use her reaction as the new gossip subject at school.
Shown in the historical Coronet Print Room in Notting Hill, Michael Oakley’s take on “A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur” is a perfect celebration of Tennessee Williams’ artistry.
The settings aids the audience in getting lost in the 1930s. The glaringly bright wallpaper mixed with the too colorful furnitures make the perfect contrasting background for a story that wants to highlight how easy it is to get fooled by beauty and perfection.
Among the characters, Bodey, played by the ever so hilarious Debbie Chazen, is the most reliable one. She is a simple, but not naive woman who loves to take care of people. She works hard at the International Shoe Company and she is genuinely interested in making sure that Dotty is happy and well, which is why she wants her to marry her twin brother.
On the other hand, Dotty, portrayed by an extremely talented Laura Rogers, is only focused on her appearances and on making her life better by marrying a good looking and rich guy.
The same contrast can be seen between Helena (Hermione Guilford) and Miss Gluck (Julia Watson). One is the polar opposite of the other. While Helena only cares about herself and keep up the appearance of being rich and beautiful, Miss Gluck doesn’t care about beauty or perfection, she presents herself as completely destroyed by her mother’s death and only looking for some genuine comfort from her friend Bodey, who is helping her coping with her loss.
The cast ensemble worked beautifully together in bringing to life Williams’ play. They all embodied their characters effortlessly, stating clearly the difference between true, deep friendship, and relationships only built on convenience and good look.
The lesson that Williams wants to teach with his play is that by only caring about superficial things in life, everyone can only learn in the hard way that real beauty isn’t on the surface and that more often than not it is what everyone has inside that makes a person beautiful.
Filled with real life anecdote described with natural sarcastic humor, A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur is an incredibly entertaining and funny comedy that makes you reflect on what it is really important in life and friendship.
A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur by Tennessee Williams is on at the Coronet Print Room now! Tickets can be booked through their official website.