Tennessee William’s roiling tale of sex, lies and money-grubbing money grubbers has never been about subtlety, but in the hands of Hypocrites artistic director Sean Graney, the theatrical fireworks practically ignite the curtains and anything else flammable lying around. The joint never quite burns to the ground in this production, but there’s a whole lot of collateral damage nonetheless. Every neck here has a vein or two that’s popping, which isn’t to say you won’t find some winning moments in this vivisection of mendacity and family dysfunction, Southern Gothic-style, performed in-the-round on a red-and-white set (blood and innocence?) designed by Geoff Curley. The 1955 Pulitzer Prize-winner is as much about desperation as it is about deception, and Jennifer Grace’s Maggie is a sometimes-intriguing (if overheated) portrayal of woman in her prime driven over the edge but still clinging by her fingertips. She is a beautiful, sex-starved grotesque in that full slip; if only there were a few minor keys in Grace’s performance. As Brick, Maggie’s husband who has dropped out of life to better devote himself to the “occupation of drinking,” John Byrnes assumes a pose that is not really disgust so much as apathy. It is an attenuated performance, but all those latent homosexual longings—and the push-pull conflict of such a taboo—churn close under the surface when Brick is ultimately confronted by his father, Big Daddy (a commanding Rob Skrocki, who might be the best thing in this production). Ultimately, though, Graney never peels back enough layers to reveal the unexpected. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.