En Avant! An Evening with Tennessee Williams

Photograph: Ron Sharpe
En Avant! An Evening with Tennessee Williams
Stage 72 , Upper West Side Tuesday August 12 2014 19:00
Sit down and get comfortable as you listen to the life story of Tennessee Williams, delivered as a delightful front-porch chat that any Williams fan will appreciate. Writer-performer William Shuman has distilled Williams’s private journals into an illuminating solo piece that spans the late playwright’s whole career and touches on his struggles with alcoholism, drugs, depression and his own homosexuality. The show is peppered with beautiful quotations and interesting trivia. (One highlight is hearing a plethora of alternate titles for his works; Williams had a habit of changing them numerous times.) Shuman’s performance is somewhat uneven—at times he seems perfectly authentic, at times self-consciously theatrical—and the repeated use of the French phrase en avant! (“onward!”) for transitions is not always effective. But the soft-spoken Shuman is endlessly endearing, and tugs at your heartstrings in his intimate rapport with the audience. You leave with a warm impression of Williams and a head full of his stunning language.—Madeline Raynor
Venue name: Stage 72
Address: 158 W 72nd St
New York
Cross street: between Columbus Ave and Broadway
Transport: Subway: 1, 2, 3 to 72nd St
Price: $30