“The Night of the Iguana”, a tale of lost souls

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A strange group of visitors arrive at the Mexican hostel managed by recently widowed Maxine (Anna Gunn). There are some young school girls led by strict Miss Fletwood (Finty Williams)  who have been guided by former priest now tormented tourist guide, Reverend Shannon (Clive Owen), an old acquaintance of Maxine. And there is the naive Hannah (Lia Williams), totally devoted to her grandfather, nonagerian poet Nonno (Julian Glover). While Miss Fletwood is totally angered with Shannon as he managed to seduce young Charlotte, the priest and Maxine let themselves pour down some old reminescence surrounded by the presence of Hannah, who gently tries to bring some balance into that awkward scene. The play, written by “A Streetcar Named Desire” author Tennessee Williams, already became a memorable movie directed by John Huston and featuring Richard Burton, Ava Gardner and Deborah Kerr. James MacDonald brings it back to the West End at Noel Coward Theatre with an all cast star, but we have to confess that it aged quite a bit. There are some moments (like the metaphorical presence of the noisy German family) who could make sense sixty years ago but are now quite redundant but the play still gives its best when the three main characters confronts each other. Clive Owen gives a good amount of disturbed masculinity and alcoholic unease to his character and Anna Gunn moves from the over-controlling Skyler who made her famous in “Breaking Bad” to a character blessed with a voluptuous sensuality. But is Lia Williams who literally blows the stage. Her Hannah wanders through the stage like a gentle ghost or fairy, a woman who never knew the meaning of love, but however treasured some weird experiences and made her count. She never judges, naive as a child. A performance which is the heart of a play about human weaknesses.

“The Night of the Iguana” is at Noel Coward Theatre until September 28.

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