Not About Nightingales | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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Not About Nightingales


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Not About Nightingales, TimeLine Theatre Company. Tennessee Williams was only 27 years old when he began this socially conscious drama about a group of convicts trapped in a hellhole of a prison, and he hadn't quite mastered his craft. The style and tone veer wildly from an expressionistic social realism that's highly reminiscent of Clifford Odets and his ilk to the sentimental hard-boiled melodrama of gangster films. The play's also full of those well-meaning speeches young playwrights like to pack into their plays lest we miss the point of their story.

Still, in the hands of an intelligent, sensitive director such as William Brown, Williams's genius can be seen in the vivid characters--all played to the hilt by Brown's totally committed cast--and in the power and beauty of the best writing. Listening to the prisoners bickering in their cells, forced by circumstance to live with people very different from themselves, you can hear the first murmurings of Williams's next full-length play, The Glass Menagerie--another work about trapped people, this time in the metaphorical prisons of family, work, and memory.

--Jack Helbig

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