Tennessee Williams is often regarded as one of the greatest writers to ever produce a work to be performed on stage. While famous for classic theatrical pieces like “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” and “The Glass Menagerie,” Williams’ repertoire spans much further, including several shorter pieces that still showcase the intense human emotion Williams is known for.
Directed by Dexter Singleton, a visiting professor of performance at UConn School of Fine Arts, “Talk To Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen…” is the first installment of a three part series showcasing the lesser known, more intimate, one-act plays written by Williams.
“Talk To Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen…,” with a running time of less than a half hour, has roots in Connecticut, having premiered at the Westport Country Playhouse in the early 1950s. Set in the same era, the play showcases a snapshot into the lives of a couple living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The man and woman, both unnamed, struggle through the daily trials of life. He is a drunk, and she seeks to leave her world behind. Both are rendered miserable in the situations they find themselves in.
With live theatrical events being performed in alternate modes during the ongoing pandemic, the production was carried out over Zoom in a dual-screen depicting the stories of two characters in the same room despite the fact that the actors playing the roles were performing in their bedrooms in different parts of the country. Using a gray-scale filter, the production fit very well in the era the story is set in, evoking a likeness to the television of the day.
I have to commend the immense talent of the production’s leading lad and lady, Casey Wortham (Woman) and Colin Kinnick (Man). Both actors seemed to resonate with their characters and were able to captivate the audience despite the challenges of performing through the screen. Wortham and Kinnick exhibited a strong chemistry despite having never met in person and having to perform intimate scenes through a screen. While the audience is never told the background of either character, their intense monologues suggest their ability to put themselves in the place of their character on an emotional level and use their own lived experiences to create a persona of their own.
Overall, the story, though brief, is incredibly relatable despite being written nearly 70 years ago. Life is hard, and it can be difficult to cope with everyday struggles. The two characters exhibit this by turning to common outlets that are often more destructive than constructive. He turns to alcohol while she mentally escapes and builds a new, unattainable life for herself. Both are short-lived and never really address the problems they are faced with but simply numb the pain for a brief moment.
While the production of “Talk To Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen” concluded on Sunday, Feb. 21, the two remaining plays of the Tennessee Williams series will premiere in March and April. For more information or to purchase tickets to any Spring 2021 CRT production, visit their website, or call the box office at 860-486-2113.