Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Light Is Heavy -- and Light Again 

Wednesday, Nov 9 2011
Comedy is not what we associate with Tennessee Williams. But Period of Adjustment, one of Williams' lesser-known plays, is every bit a comedy. A Christmas comedy. Could the master of lyrical poignancy succeed in a genre so foreign to his greatest plays? This production, under the adept direction of Bill English, shows how versatile the playwright really was — and it makes the case that a dose of romcom holiday sentiment, properly handled, isn't that far from lyrical poignancy after all. Period of Adjustment follows two young couples so mismatched they have quickly become estranged. The rules of comedy dictate that they make up — inevitably yet improbably — and, for the first time, fall in love. The holiday conceit makes the plot predictable; you quickly infer that, by the end of the play, compassion, lust, and some good old-fashioned Christmas spirit will reconcile the beleaguered couples. But under English's well-paced direction, the mechanism never feels trite. By letting the comic tension melt into slow-burning desire, he shows us that a Williams seduction can have beauty and power even when it's preceded by dialogue like, "The world is a big hospital, and I'm a nurse in it." These characters — a Southern belle fighting for a lost society; a disaffected, bourbon-drinking husband — and the themes — sexual asymmetry in marriage; the emptiness of mid-century Southern mores — resonate more powerfully in Williams' better-known works. But this hidden gem of a play not only showcases his ability to move us in many different registers, it makes the holiday spirit into a real and powerful force.
Tuesdays-Saturdays; Tuesdays-Saturdays; Sun., Nov. 27; Tuesdays-Saturdays. Starts: Nov. 15. Continues through Jan. 14, 2011

About The Author

Lily Janiak

Related Locations


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed
  1. Most Popular


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"