The most popular form of theatre has always been melodrama. Tennessee Williams, unashamedly theatrical, was a master of the genre in the mid-20th century and never afraid to go right over the top. His mother once boasted that there was no perversion her son had not written about.
Sweet Bird of Youth is about "the enemy, time, in us all" and the futile attempts of two washed-up monsters to retain their youth. Alexandra del Lago, an ageing Hollywood star, well past her sell-by-date, on drugs and in constant need of alcohol and oxygen, books into a hotel on the Gulf Coast under the name of Princess Kosmonoplis.
She is travelling incognito, fleeing from the premiere of her comeback-film, which she presumes has been a disaster. She wakes up to find a man in her bed. "I may have done better," she observes, "but God knows I have done worse." Williams based the role on Tallulah Bankhead.
The man is Chance Wayne, a 27-year-old beach boy and gigolo, a handsome criminal degenerate, all ambition and no talent, and also past his sell-by-date. "Love-making is my vocation," he says. "I was born to make love." Since Chance is good for nothing else, he should never have come back to his home town. Boss Finley, the local corrupt and vicious politician, has never forgiven him for giving his under-aged daughter venereal disease and intends to castrate him on Easter Sunday.
Both roles are portraits of Williams. Alexandra del Lago is one of the great movie queens – up there with Margot Channing in All About Eve and Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard – and she was created by Geraldine Page on Broadway. Paul Newman, perfect casting, played Chance Wayne opposite her on stage and screen.
Marianne Elliott’s welcome revival, the first in nearly 20 years, is headed by Kim Cattrall who is particularly good when an assistant hotel manager attempts to evict her: “I don’t even talk to managers of hotels,” she says, “I talk to the owners of them.”
The major surprise is that Alexandra is off stage for most of the second act. The play’s leading role is in fact the well-endowed Chance Wayne. Body language is important here and Seth Numrich, the talented young American actor, totally at ease with the Tennessee Williams idiom, is not only physically impressive, but also, unnervingly, resigned to castration as a means of atonement for Chance’s guilt. Owen Roe’s Boss Finley is a first-rate monster.
Campaigns & Issues
Oldest old ‘not a drain on society’
ILC-UK responds to 2011 Census data on the oldest old published today
David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK, responding to the results, said:
"This new evidence reveals that 8.8% for those aged over 85 are still caring for someone. And half of these older carers are providing support for more than 50 hours a week.
The Elders honour the memory of their Founder, Nelson Mandela
The Elders are deeply saddened by the death of their founder, Nelson Mandela. They join millions of people around the world who were inspired by his courage and touched by his compassion. All will mourn his passing.
Mandela – or Madiba as he is known in South Africa – called the Elders together in 2007, urging them to be bold, independent and to speak the truth. He told them to be a robust force for good, and to work in the interests of peace for all humanity.
Competitions & Fun
Fairytale of New York voted top Christmas driving song!
With the festive season fast approaching and Christmas songs becoming a daily feature of radio station playlists, a 1st Central Insurance survey reveals The Pogues' Fairytale of New York is the nation's favourite Christmas song to drive along to.
Whilst drivers surveyed found the radio the least distracting in-car activity compared to mobile phones, children, satellite-navigation systems and chatting to passengers; 1st Central is cautioning motorists to remain focussed whilst behind the wheel this festive season.
Win one of 31 fabulous travel treats from Silver Travel Advisor this December
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Silver Travel Advisor is a friendly website packed with advice, tips, information and honest reviews written by and for silver travellers (aged over 50). A team of advisors are on hand to answer queries (for free), and you can share your own experiences too.
Health & Wellbeing
Winterproof your skin
Radiant, glowing skin can be yours whatever the weather. We let you in on some expert secrets
The weather has a huge impact on how you look and feel and the secret to healthy glowing skin is to adapt your skincare regime according to the season. Follow these steps and your skin will repay you with a gorgeous glow that will last right through to spring.
At this time of year cold harsh winds and the drying effects of central heating can wreak havoc on your skin and it may need extra hydration to give back what Mother Nature takes away. ‘The lipid layer, the outermost layer of the skin, needs to be protected to create a barrier that keeps natural moisture intact and stops it from escaping,’ explains dermatologist Victoria Pugh.
Property & Finance
Costly Christmas Needs Careful Budgeting
Nearly a third of Brits won’t be able to make November’s salary last until Christmas
Only 26 per cent have budgeted for the festive expense
The Christmas countdown is on and with three weeks to go, Britain’s number one comparison site MoneySuperMarket.com reveals nearly a third (30 per cent) of Christmas spenders won’t be able to make their November salary last to fund the festivities.
Leisure and Lifestyle
Joyce Glasser reviews Frozen
Frozen is seasonal, family entertainment at its best with Executive Producer John Lasseter (UP, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Brave) working his magic once again. This combination of romantic comedy and musical adventure story was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 fable, The Snow Queen and features, at its core, an unusual, schmaltz-free sisterly bond.
That might be because the film is co-directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, with Lee, the first female director of animation in Disney’s history, in charge of the script. It’s hard to imagine any demographic that won’t be drawn to its varied characters, settings, and superb 3D animation, not to mention its wise messages and music.
Driving home for Christmas
Chris Rea’s song 'Driving Home for Christmas' is a one that resonates with many of us at this time of the year.
While it’s the time to spend with family and friends, many of us will be embarking on a car journey home before we enjoy the festive cheer.
But before you make that journey home, it’s important to do a few checks to the car.
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