Vieux Carre, Will Act for Food, at Strawdog Theatre Company. Late in his career Tennessee Williams drew upon his memories of living in New Orleans’s French Quarter in the late 30s, before the historical district was restored and revived. Among the residents of the boardinghouse at 722 Toulouse St. are so many intriguing personalities, each with a distinct story, that they slow the dramatic action of this Will Act for Food production. It’s further impeded by the restrictive dimensions of the Strawdog stage and the miscast Jason Jude Hill, whose delivery in the role of the Writer is awkwardly ingenuous.

But these flaws are redeemed by the vivid archetypes created by director Daniel Shea’s industrious cast with the assistance of dialect coach Laura Ciresi. As the landlady whose strident voice and fiery temper hide a deep sorrow, Jennifer Mathews commands the stage from her first appearance, and as a consumptive aesthete raging against the dying of the light, Mike Driscoll grows into his role–as do Corri Feuerstein as a down-at-the-heels bluestocking and Micah Bernier as her virile consort. Their tales unfold at a leisurely pace that nevertheless keeps us engaged.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kristine Easton.