Confessional, Eclipse Theatre Company, at the Chopin Theatre. Tennessee Williams wrote Confessional (titled Small Craft Warnings in its revised version) late in his career--which might account for its resemblance to a reunion of his favorite personalities from other plays. Converging in Monk's seamy waterfront bar are a dominating earth mother, a languid hustler, a fey child-woman, a cynical healer, a chicken hawk and his latest pickup, and of course a deceased homosaint whose memory is evoked by classical violin music--as likely to be found on a tavern jukebox as a truffle is on Maxwell Street.
The flurry of noisy confusion that initiates the play's action is handicapped by director Jenny McKnight's propensity for placing actors with their backs to the audience, compounding the effects of the Chopin's cavelike acoustics, which blur any dialogue not spoken full front on the curtain line. And actors must keep a firm grip on character and text when they step out of the action into a spotlight (the "confessional" of the title) to deliver their soliloquies, like contestants at a poetry slam. Unfortunately most of the Eclipse cast still seemed unsure of character and lines alike at this second performance, but Gary Simmers as the placid Steve and Doug Frank as the fatherly Monk managed to focus on their immediate environment, making for some interesting moments. --Mary Shen Barnidge