Sweet Bird of Youth

Tennessee WilliamsSweet Bird of youth at the Artistic Home theatre

Directed by Dale Calandra

At the Artistic Home

Great performances fuel strong script in a rare Williams’ classic

Dale Calandra returns to Chicago to direct his friend Kathy Scambiatterra in the seldom mounted Williams’ classic drama – Sweet Bird of Youth.   Josh Odor, plays Chance Wayne and Kathy Scambiatterra plays the Princess. Both are aging and lamenting their fading youth.  These two characters overwhelm us with their sensuality, their angst and their self-loathing.

Sweet Bird of youth at the Artistic Home theatre

Featuring Tennessee Williams lyrical and lurid language, Sweet Bird of Youth still resonates today as folks try face lifts, hair coloring,botax and dieting  in a vain attempt to stay young. Sweet Bird deals with the psychological effects of aging as we meet a gigolo/drifter who, age age 29, has lost his boyish looks to hard drink and drugs. Chance is traveling with the former movie star, Alexandra DeLago, who is running from a disastrous opening of her come-back film. The early scenes in act one between Odor’s Chance and Scambiatterra as each attempt to dominate the other are power, enticing and strongly performed. Their love/hate, respect/loathing permeates the stage. Two finer performances would be hard to find. These two are electric.

Sweet Bird of youth at the Artistic Home theatre

Chance has driven the Princess to St. Cloud, Florida, his home town as he desperately tries to reconnect with his soul-mate, Heavenly Finley. Her father, a political boss like Huey Long, ran chance out of town a number of years ago. Tom Boss Finley (Frank Nall) parades heavenly around in a white dress symbolizing her purity. Chance is warned to leave St. Cloud before Boss has him punished for his indiscretion with Heavenly years ago.

The plots deals with not only aging and lost youth but the small town narrow-mindedness and racial tensions in the 50’s Deep South. This explosive drama aptly demonstrates how lost innocence is impossible to resurrect. We see the devastation fro shame and regrets that never seem to go away.

Fran Nall, as Boss Finley,  Kristine Collins as Miss Lucy offered terrific performances in addition to the fabulous turns from Josh Odor and Kathy Scambiatterra.  The Artistic Home’s Sweet Bird of Youth is one of the season’s best dramas. Don’t miss it!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Jeff Recommended

At The Artistic Home, 3914 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL, www.theartistichome.org, tickets $28, Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturdays at 8 pm, Sundays at 3 pm, running time is 2 hours, 30  minutes with intermission.