Kathy B.'s Stratford '98 Preview

"Views From A Broad"

Thought I forgot about "Night of the Iguana," didn't you? Well I didn't; it just previewed this week. And it's definitely rough around the edges. Real rough. (It would help enormously if 'Hannah' knew her lines. ) It hasn't found its edge yet. The intensity that comes from suspense (what will he do if he cracks up) isn't there. The "layers" are missing from some of the characters. They've found the exterior but the interiors need furnishing. To be fair, this is again a preview and you can tell that everyone's working hard to bring it all together. To be honest and fair, I would say it shows tremendous promise and has enormous potential to be Stratford's big success this season.

Need I tell you, though, that Mr. Johnson rises above it all and is again impressive? This role, when it comes together, may be the diamond in his resume. He's building a tour de force here. He brings to this role a range of elements so vast you would never have imagined them from reading the script: humor and a charming, childlike playfulness, fear and vulnerability. Shannon isn't just an extreme character on the edge. That's too simple. No, in Mr. Johnson's performance, Shannon is a bit of all of us: when we mean to do what's right and don't quite succeed, when we fear what the future holds even when we don't know what that is, when we want to connect with someone and don't quite know how. He brings all that to the stage in this role.

What's also interesting is the way he works with the set, not just on it. He doesn't just lay in a hammock: he plays with it, climbs all over it, almost like a child on a jungle gym. He's inventive is what he is.

And it's a physical role. There's a fight with Maxine that involves shoving a beverage cart back and forth. There's a headlock when the bus driver has to take the ignition key from him. There's a slap when he makes one wisecrack too many to an uptight schoolteacher. (No, kids, so far she's not pulling her punches. Hope that changes before he does all 35 performances!) There's a kiss to underscore the relationship between Shannon and the teenager he's seduced. I disagree with the director: I think it's unnecessary. There are more subtleties in Williams' play and audiences aren't quite that stupid.

If you're craving eye-candy, it still ain't bad. It's another shirtless, sockless, shoeless role. High arches, that guy. And puppy feet. No calluses, nothing. (I know you wanted to know, so I threw it in.)

So how good is it? Well, rough as it is, it was worth the $300 cab ride from Detroit to sit in the front row and see it.
(Never mind. Long, long story for another time. And another web site.)

-Kathy B. (kathyb@kwom.com)

Stratford '98 / Lucard's Home Page / lpetix@dpcc.com