Synthetic Unlimited presents its second full-length classic play, Tennessee Williams’ “Kingdom of Earth,” at The Stonehouse in Nevada City Thursday (May 16) through May 31.
All of the signatures of a great Tennessee Williams play come through in this three-actor drama, full of soaring poetry and gritty reality. Lot Ravenstock, a dying transvestite, brings his new “TV wife” Myrtle back to his ancestral home on the Mississippi Delta, which his feral half-brother, Chicken, also hopes to inherit. The play is set during a single afternoon and night in the middle of a raging Southern storm as the levee threatens to break and flood both floors of the house. The characters’ conversations and monologues circle through themes of death, survival and sex, all in Tennessee Williams’ glorious language, performed with a deep southern drawl.
Tennessee Williams, considered a master of gritty reality and soaring poetry, wrote “Kingdom of Earth” in 1968, a good 20 years after his classic plays “The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The ’60s gave Williams more license with swears, suggestive sexuality and political issues. “Kingdom of Earth” addresses homosexuality, racism and abortion, all at a time when these issues were fresh in the mind of the public.
Camen Hodges, a local filmmaker, makes his theatrical debut as director of this two-hour play. Pam Hodges and Anja Leon-Guerrero have created and lit a moody, transportive set design, accompanied by an artful soundtrack of bluegrass, country and gospel tunes. Synthetic newcomer Brian Arnold plays the elegant, delicate Lot, while Jimmy McCammon and Grace Fae of last summer’s porduction of “Antony and Cleopatra,” play opposite each other again as the dirty Chicken and the ditzy Myrtle.
The Stonehouse doors open early each night. Local chef Sean Sullivan will cook up hearty Southern comfort food, including fried chicken, collard greens and homemade cornbread, starting at 6 p.m.
Local musician Chad Conner Crow brings his sultry blues bands, The Coach Earle Crow Trio or The Grease Grit and Grime Trio, for a free hour of live old-timey and blues music from 6:30-7:30 p.m., before every performance. The play begins at 7:30 p.m. and runs for two hours with a short intermission.
“Kingdom of Earth” opens Thursday and runs for only six shows at The Stonehouse, Sunday, May 23, May 26, May 30 and May 31.
This is the second play in a seven-show 2013 season from Synthetic Unlimited. The April debut production of David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow” at The Stonehouse created a stir, and the company plans on opening a new, full-length classic play each month. Coming up at The Stonehouse in July, Synthetic Unlimited presents “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and, in October, an experimental look at Shakespeare’s “Othello.” Ticket prices are $15, or $10 for students, seniors and members. To get tickets, call 1-888-95-SHOWS, go to BriarPatch Co-op or go online at http://syntheticunlimited.org.