1741 WORDS


Of Iguana

A reverend's constant struggle for decency, preserving life, and moving forward
while escaping the past are among the primary thematic characteristics in

Tennessee Williams’s "Night of the Iguana." By far one of the most
personal shows I have seen, this play seems to speak to each audience member
uniquely; I at least found this true of Furman Theater's presentation. Although
the leading roles lacked in their presentation, the supporting characters where
convincing and extremely engaging, pulling the intimate theater's audience into
the story. Overall, the production elements heightened the audiences viewing
experience. Costuming and scenery complemented each other particularly well,
creating an environment and period that enveloped the audience in the play's
setting. Without a doubt, this was a job well done for Furman Theater. Maxine is
the proprietor of The Costa Verde, a cheap Mexican motel. Her character is
established from the first few moments of the play along with her Mexican
"night-swimmers." Their personalities exude an odd mixture of
promiscuity, loneliness, and satisfaction. With the entrance of the once
minister now tour guide, Larry Shannon, and his bus load of ladies from the

Baptist Female College, this satisfaction is eliminated and replaced with the
pain of indecency in a defrocked minister. Shannon's justification for arriving
at the Costa Verde is to rest and escape form the constant chatter and uplifting
songs of the female tour group. But in reality, his condition is much more
serious; he is both mentally and physically ill and feels as though the Costa

Verde can act as a safe haven from the rest the world. With his tarnished
reputation in the church, Shannon also has a need to be atoned for the sins he
has committed. In doing this, he hopes to purify himself enough to return the
pulpit. The insatiable need for companionship and understanding are recognized
immediately in both Shannon and Maxine. Regardless of the sarcastic comments
between the two, the audience is easily convinced that both characters could
provide friendship for the other. Unfortunately, with the entrance of Hannah

Jelkes, a quick sketch artist, and her "ninety-year young" grandfather
and poet, Nonno, Williams no longer elaborates on the the relationship of Maxine
and Shannon; instead he shifts focus to Shannon's admiration for Ms.Jelkes
through his constant use of "fantastic." Shannon and Hannah's bond is
established from their first hello. Shannon's face seems to say, "Where
have you been all my life?" Even though her reaction is not as strong in
the beginning, she steadily warms to his character. The two become fast friends,
eventually uncovering each others the deepest secrets; Shannon revealing his
pedophile tendencies while Hannah explains her two "love experiences."

As in Moliere's Misanthrope, the two main characters seem so different in the
beginning, but we finally discover the two are very similar through the
compassion as well as the conversations between Hannah and Shannon. It is
because of these similarities that they could not "travel" together.

It is in these final scenes that each character seems to realize their place;

Shannon excepts his need for the companionship of Maxine, Hannah realizes her
need for stability, and Nonno feels the desire to finish his final poem. With
these revelations, Nonno dies peacefully. As Assistant Stage Manager, I found
myself watching the play on several occasions; therefore, my opinion may have a
tendency to be more in favor of or contrarily, a bit harsh on the acting and
direction of the show. It must first be said that in theater giving someone a
chance to play a role is necessary for the development of an actor's own
ability. Unfortunately, it seemed that Oney took too great of a risk when
casting Meggin Stailely as the forty-year-old spinster. Granted, her performance
progressively improved during the run of the show, but it never peaked. At times
the actress seemed almost angelic with her bright eyes and young figure. Her
performance as Hannah Jelkes was not only unconvincing, but her movements on
stage were awkward and unnatural. Makeup, costume, and the director's blocking
could possibly be to blame for the shortcomings in her character, but from the
first rehearsal to the last performance, Stailey's portrayal of Hannah seemed
unimproved. Stailey was not the only upset in this performance of "The

Night of the Iguana." Doug Cummins, who played the role of the defrocked
minister, Larry Shannon, was equally unsettling. The personality of Larry

Shannon is one of uncertainty and confusion. Although Cummins understood his
character, the actor went to far, making the audience question his motives.

Throughout the show, he stuttered and stumbled through

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