This publicity image has nothing whatsoever to do with the show but who am I to discourage innovative advertising drives?
She starts by kicking out the greasy wannabe gigolo (Gavin Brocker) who's been
mooching off her for months, but also has a combination of harsh home truths and
genuinely caring advice to dispense to everyone else in the bar.
Silver's high concept is not only to relocate the action to a pub somewhere on the
South Coast of England, but to make it "semi-immersive," Justin Williams' set
turning the whole of Southwark Playhouse's Little space into a grotty pub - with
working bar, if the state of the characters hasn't put you off - and the audience
sat all around and at tables around which the actors perform. The only downside of
this is that the audience - the show was pretty full even on a Monday night - make the
place look far busier than it would ever be, but otherwise it's a surprisingly good
match to the play's episodic nature.
There's a couple of points where a plot of sorts takes place: The subtext appears
pretty clearly in many of his plays but apparently Confessional was the first
time Williams explicitly put gay characters on stage, the author-substitute figure
of a Hollywood script doctor (Timothy Harker) turning up with the barely-legal trade
he's just picked up (Jack Archer,) and who's disappointed him by actually being gay
- the older man prefers the challenge of getting drunk young straight men into bed.
There's also the understated tragedy of an alcoholic doctor (Abi McLoughlin) called
out to deliver a baby with predictably disastrous results.
Stanton is unquestionably the star but it's uniformly strongly performed by a cast
also including Rob "first death in Game of Thrones" Ostlere, who aren't
afraid to make themselves pretty grim. Despite being a fairly short play, as the
pub's electricity fails and the lights flicker there's a real feeling that we're
going into the wee small hours of the morning here, and though there's little in the
way of light relief it's a pretty compelling evening that doesn't get mired in its
Confessional by Tennessee Williams is booking until the 29th of October at Southwark
Playhouse's Little Theatre.
Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes straight through.
Photo credit: Simon Annand.