Review: Spring Storm at Wokingham TheatreBy Caroline Cook
March 01, 2013
Thursday, February 28, to Saturday, March 9
Wokingham Theatre, Cantley Park,
Wokingham, RG40 5TU
(0118) 978 5363
For more than 50 years Spring Storm lay languishing in a drawer after Tennessee Williams' professor deemed it a flop.
And what a waste that five decades was.
Williams' 'forgotten' play is almost as tragic as Streetcar and nearly as compelling as Glass Menagerie and Wokingham Theatre did a splendid job at showing that to its audiences last night.
Set in the Deep South it follows the flightly Heavenly Crtichfield (Jess Hadleigh) who is torn between rough and ready Dick Miles (Tom Smithdale) and the wealthy but dull Arthur Shannon (Luke Burton).
Jess Hadleigh sparkled as the flirtatious Heavenly, creating a tempestuous twenty-something who could be both adored for her long brown curls and girlishness, and disliked for her indecisiveness and manipulative giggles.
When first performed in the 90s Spring Storm was criticised for its underdeveloped characters but Williams' gives just enough to let the audience fill in the gaps.
Tom Smithdale as Dick was hapless and brutish, with more intrigue coming from Arthur who Luke Burton played as nervous and wimpish, haunted by events from his childhood.
As Williams' familiar setting the Deep South presents a vocal challenge to amateur companies performing his work and the Southern accent is notoriously difficult to master.
Wokingham Theatre did a fair job, with lead cast members mastering the drawl and others not quite hitting the spot. But that, together with a few dropped lines were the only major indicators that this was an amateur production.
Lighting and set were impressive with pathetic fallacy constantly hinting at impending tragedies. Huge flashes of lightening dominated the stage and different scenes were well created, like the garden with water fountain tinkling in the background.
Although it will never be regarded on the same level as Streetcar or Glass Menagerie, Spring Storm is, at its bare bones, a great story, and it is a pleasure that Wokingham Theatre has brought this forgotten play to the forefront once again.