Fugitive Kind
Reviewed by David Kashimba
Photo by Ed Smith

Once again Marin Theatre has resurrected an obscure play by Tennessee Williams. Written in 1937 when the author was in his early 20s, Fugitive Kind contains many of the seeds that would blossom into his later works such as A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie and Camino Real. For this reason alone, the production is worth seeing especially for Williamsí fans and Williamsí scholars. In addition, director Lee Sankowich put together a star studded cast of Bay Area actors including Emily Ackerman, Ed Sarafian, Pat Parker, Ralph Miller, Richard Gallagher and Scott Coopwood to mention only a few.

The result is a well-acted play with a great set design. But ďthe play is the thingĒ and thereís no way of getting around the fact that this is an early work and lacks the powerful dramatic and entertainment value that Williamsí later plays had.

With that warning in mind, Williamsí fans and scholars will find it interesting to trace the growth of one of Americaís great literary minds in this early work. Williamsí use of snow, as a controlling image for the entire drama, balances the many downtrodden characters of Fugitive Kind with the hope of a purer, cleaner life. The play also shows Williamsí life long compassion for the poor, the homeless and those whose desperate circumstances push them into lives on the wrong side of the law. Williams, like many artists, realized how closely the artistís life patterns that of the fugitive kind. Itís not just the poverty that most artists struggle with; itís also the isolation of being true to a painfully singular occupation.

There are also moments in this drama when we see the poet in Williams emerge. One particular scene is when a hopeless alcoholic offers the son of the hotel owner a drink, and in the empty lobby they watch the snow fall outside the window blanketing the dark city streets in white. The two men talk of what is and what should be and find comfort in the sound of each otherís words. The meaning of those words isnít important. They both know that they probably wonít change a thing. Whatís important is that their words touched and mingled with each other and with the snow and helped them to get through the night.

For tickets or more information call (415) 388-5208 or visit www.marintheatre.org.

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