The Night of the Iguana is a powerful play about human relationships and how alone everyone really is, however intimate their contact. The Reverend Lawrence T. Shannon, now a tour leader, arrives in a state of collapse at a run-down hotel to find that his friend has died and the friend’s predatory wife, Maxine, has designs on him. On to the sweltering terrace of this seedy Mexican hotel comes Ms. Fellowes, the leader of the group that Shannon has been leading, or misleading as it turns out. In her wake is the hysterical Charlotte, the youngest in the group and therefore the one that Shannon has seduced. On to the terrace too comes a spinster, Hannah, with her 97-year-old grandfather who survive by moving from hotel to hotel, country to country, selling her portraits and his poetry recitals.
The action of the play is all in the words, what we discover about the characters and how they have arrived, physically and mentally, at this sad place. Shannon, not quite defrocked but certainly disgraced, has a tendency to sleep with under-age girls but hates himself and them for it. Hannah’s need to observe people for her portraits has made her sensitive to personalities and she is the person who comes closest to understanding Shannon. Yet her two ‘close’ experiences are sad and essentially lonely encounters. Maxine has outlived a loveless marriage and has to be tough enough to make her own way, Shannon being perhaps her only weakness. You almost feel that Hannah and Shannon could perhaps make a life together, but this is Tennessee Williams: Shannon cannot come up and Hannah cannot come down to a place where they could meet. The iguana is released, the old man dies and, as Shannon goes off with Maxine, we are left wondering what Hannah will do now.
The play stands or falls on the performance of Shannon and this production stands. Sam Aldred is nervy, excitable, totally believable as Shannon and Thea Warren is a gentle but strong Hannah. Sophie MacClancy is equally convincing as a sultry but surprisingly vulnerable Maxine. The set is simple and effective (and by the way the iguana is gorgeous; why is it not more on display?).
But... some housekeeping, guys! 7.30 is 7.30 and not 7.45. A 15 minute interval is 15 minutes. Is it that hard to produce a simple programme, perhaps with a few notes as well as a cast list? Keble students may know where the bar is but we didn’t so we were left wondering where to go and believe me it was COLD! Please don’t spoil a good production by not attending to the audience.