Theatre ReviewsTom Williams

The Day On Which A Man Dies

By Tennessee WilliamsNational Pastime, The Day On Which a man dies by tennessee williams

Directed by David Kaplan

As part of Naked July Art Stripped Down

At National Pastime Theater

Unique lost Tennessee Williams one act is riveting

Tennessee Williams’ 1960 one-act play, rediscovered in 1991, is presented as part of National Pastime Theater’s Naked July Art Stripped Down event dedicated to showing off the beauty of the human body. Williams’ provocative work is a translation of Japanese Noh drama into performance art.  The text is subtitled “An Occidental Noh Play,” but it also echoes the practices of the Japanese group of painters and sculptors who call themselves the Gutai. As in Gutai works, in The Day On Which A man Dies paintings are created and destroyed in the course of a performance, the bodies of the performers are painted, and the setting is made of paper.

This work was a triumph of emotions for Jeff  Christian (The Man) who plays the agonized, drunken American painter frustrated with his lost creative force. Christian was outstanding as was his lover of 11 years, Jennie Moreau (The Woman). Picture a man naked except for a G-string, covered in red/yellow paint, using spry paint on himself and his canvas in a desperate attempt to regain his creative muse. He is drunk, nasty and deeply depressed. He argues with his lover as she asks what is her legal status with him after 11 years as his lover in light of his stating that his is shortly going to die.

Williams was strongly influenced when his friend, Jackson Pollack and his Japanese writer friend Yukio Mishima both committed “inspirational” suicides. This play demonstrates Williams’ deep haunting from his friends untimely deaths. He deftly explores the frenzied hunt an artist makes while trying to find new means of expression.  David Kaplan’s production is deep, haunting and most disturbing while capturing the essence of Noh drama and Gutai practices. It is a fantasia on the demise of Jackson Pollack. It is like no other Tennessee Williams play I’ve witnessed. It is worth seeing.


Tom Williams

At National Pastime Theater, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL, Call 773-327-7077, tickets $20, Fridays & Saturdays at 8 pm, running time is 85 minutes without intermission, through August 1, 2009

One thought on “The Day On Which A Man Dies

  • dr larry myers

    this poster is extraordinary for an extraordinary play
    david kaplan is archaeologist of the future
    discovering tennessee s lost treasures & presenting them as exquisite finds
    bravo bravo bravo
    tennessee would be so happy he is!

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