The Long Goodbye and Lord Byron's Love Letter | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

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The Long Goodbye and Lord Byron's Love Letter

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The Long Goodbye and Lord Byron's Love Letter, Raven Theatre. In recent seasons Tennessee Williams has enjoyed a belated popularity: revivals of his lesser-known works have figured prominently on the storefront circuit. Now Raven Theatre continues the exhumation with two sketches rarely seen outside the classroom.

The Long Goodbye pays homage to Raymond Chandler, one of many literary names dropped during a conversation between would-be writer Joe and his buddy as movers strip Joe's apartment of its furnishings. Occasionally Joe reminisces about his strong, self-sacrificing mother and a pretty sister who "went bad"--both of whom bear a remarkable resemblance to characters in Williams's later plays. The earthy, tank-shirted Silva, disturbed by his pal's gloomy introspection, exhorts him to "write about it someday."

JoAnn Montemurro, making her debut as a director, draws engaging performances--despite traces of opening-night stiffness--from an ensemble led by Leif Olsen as the scribbler and Ed Cunningham as Silva. Raising the curtain is Williams's Lord Byron's Love Letter: Millicent Hurley and Esther McCormick generate a hilarious tag-team chemistry as two shabby-genteel dowagers who profess connections with the famous English poet in an attempt to bilk New Orleans tourists during Mardi Gras. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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