There is such an explicit and superficial use of religion in so many area plays currently running that it is truly refreshing to be reminded of the power of a play that incorporates an implicit yet deeper meaning of religion the way that Tennessee Williams does in his 1961 “The Night of the Iguana.” How prophetic that the fundamentalist and judgmental killjoys that make a 1940 bus trip to Mexico are from Texas, and they have little tolerance for the questioning, agnostic, alcoholic and sex addict defrocked minister who is their tour guide and who by acknowledging and struggling against his own weaknesses and temptations goes through a dark night of the soul that becomes a shared theophany for all, save the fundamentalists and visiting Nazis. This is the opening production of Raven Theatre’s twentieth-anniversary season and founder and director Michael Menendian has pulled out of the stops to make this a very special production from strong casting— such as founding member JoAnn Montemurro’s memorable Maxine—to a tropical set and sound effects that make you almost feel the heat along with the intensity of the entangled web of relationships. You can’t help but notice how much even the usually insignificant characters such as the two houseboys are always doing something interesting onstage, which adds great credibility to the proceedings, though between a lit cigar and an overdose of stage fog for the second act, be warned that this is not an allergy friendly production. (Dennis Polkow)
At Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, (773)338-2177. This production is now closed.