Review: “Small Craft Warnings” at 13th Street Repertory Theatre

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Anthony J. Piccione

  • Associate New York Critic

Widely considered to be one of the finest playwrights of the 20th century, titles such as “The Glass Menagerie” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” are often among the first to come to mind, when someone hears the name Tennessee Williams. However, while those plays came during the earlier part of his career, the final decade or so of his life is more associated with his personal troubles than with anything to do with his artistic output. This is a terrible shame, as there are still plenty of gems worth appreciating, when looking back on this period of his life. Among them is “Small Craft Warnings”, first produced in 1972 and now revived at the historic 13th Street Repertory Theatre by Regeneration Theatre.

 Set in a run-down bar in California, rather than tell one cohesive plot from beginning to end, the play depicts multiple characters and their individual threads of stories. The term “slice of life” is often used to describe traditional, well-written American dramas, but this forgotten work by one of the greats is among the few revived dramas I’ve seen that truly deserves that description. It almost feels like looking at a snapshot of real-life humans and their individual stories, rather than written personalities forced into a broader scenario by their creator, and the fact that this play preserves that individuality of the characters – while making them all come across as people with compelling back stories – is a big part of what makes it worth watching.

 As someone who has now seen three of this company’s production, I will say that Regeneration Theatre certainly has both a fairly good troupe of go-to actors in their repertoire of talent. Robert Maisonett and Jenne Vath – who were both seen earlier this year in Regeneration Theatre’s production of “As Is” – turned in particularly compelling performances in the roles of Monk and Violet, respectively. Also outstanding was George A. Morafetis, who steals the show with a performance that takes a particularly emotional turn in the 2nd act of the play.

As the producer’s note mentions, there is rarely a shortage of plays by Tennessee Williams that are being revived in New York. However, with this choice of a play, Regeneration Theatre has shown its audience that this is one play of his that isn’t revived quite as often, but perhaps should be. It’s just the latest addition to their long-line of revivals of plays that actually deserve to be revived, unlike some other revivals we see in the industry.

I look forward to seeing what they put up next in 2019…

 

SMALL CRAFT WARNINGS

“Small Craft Warnings” stars Robert Maisonett, George A. Morafetis, Jenne Vath, Jed Peterson, Nicole Greevy, Jon Spano, Jason Pintar, and Christian Musto.

“Small Craft Warnings” is written by Tennessee Williams and directed by Barnaby Edwards and Marcus Gualberto, featuring stage manager Allison Hohman, assistant stage manager and scenic co-ordinator Kerielle Sollecito, lighting and sound design by Allison Hohman.

“Small Craft Warnings” – presented by Regeneration Theatre – runs at 13th Street Repertory Theatre, located at 50 W 13th Street, New York, NY, from November 1st-11th. Run time is approximately 120 minutes plus 15 minute intermission.

For more information, please visit www.13thstreetrep.org.