Confessional at Southwark PlayhouseCultureTheatre
Enter Monk’s bar, grab yourself a drink, take a seat and prepare to bear witness to humanity’s discordance, as the volatile and tortured souls of a seaside town’s ill-fated inhabitants enter and hang their dirty laundry for all to see.
Having crossed the Atlantic from its Southern California roots, this new adaptation of Tennessee Williams’s Confessional trades the American twang and California vibes for Essex drawl and Southend gloom, and much as Southend dive bar’s attract the weird and wonderful, our characters encompass a strange and miscellaneous group of individuals, each of them with a sad story to tell.
This particular ensemble includes a doctor practicing without a licence, a man living off the esteem of his enlarged member, an older gay man chasing young straight men and a mentally ill girl with wandering hands. At the center of it all though is the tragic heroine Leona (Lizzie Stanton), a trailer park beautician who despite wanting the best for everyone in her exasperated way, frequently insults everyone at a moment’s notice.
Confessional’s greatest charm comes from the semi-immersive stage, in which the cast frequently intermingles with the audience, casually flirting or stealing drinks, and the bartender serves cocktails to any brave enough to stand amongst the cast. In many ways it redeems some of the less-compelling moments as the performance itself ebbs and flows between the arguments of the drunken Leona and the referee like Monk (Raymond Bethley), who steps in when it all gets a bit too out of hand.
Lizzie Stanton is by far the guiding force here, and she provides a superb drunken and mournful Leona, as she wavers between sorrow and fierceness, but Tennessee Williams’ script seems a little self-important at times and it suffers from loss of pace and a perhaps longer than necessary run time.
Photos: Simon Annand
Confessional is at Southwark Playhouse from 5th October until 29th October 2016, for further information or to book visit here.