City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Morning After Season: The Pink Bedroom Review


By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 11 August 2013

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Show details
Company: 
3Bugs Fringe Theatre
Running time: 
40mins
Production: 
Tennessee Williams (writer), Eleanor Dodsonn (director)
Performers: 
Clare Dodkins (The Woman), Hal Geller (the Man), David Williams (younger man)

Tennessee Williams is a master of creating brutal and brittle characters often trapped in a suffocating family situation or relationship.

Having experienced a difficult childhood and nervous breakdown aged 23, he used his own emotional baggage for his portraits of dominating fathers, vulnerable men and fragile women such as the wildly passionate Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar named Desire.

The Pink Bedroom is a vintage one-act play written around 1935 but not staged until its US premiere in 2007, and in London the following year. Performed as part of a quartet of playlets, the duration was just 12 minutes.

3Bugs Fringe Theatre has curiously (and unwisely) decided to extend the performance to around 40 minutes. This is achieved by adding several period romantic songs and a great deal of silence.

The stage is set with an iron bedstead draped with a pink sheet, a casually thrown bra and braces. Around the room, a wireless, fan, pink lamp, books, whiskey decanter. The ballad “I don’t know why I love you” plays on the soundtrack as the Woman appears wearing black underwear and pink silk dressing gown.

She sits looking bored on the bed, then nonchalantly wanders over to switch on the fan and radio, sits down again waiting impatiently, as we watch and wait impatiently. But at least we are entertained by the jazz classic, “Lazy River.”

At last, action and dialogue: The Man arrives whose first words, “Pink!, Pink!, Pink!”, reveal a tone of frustration and anger aimed at her and the feminine decor. It is soon apparent this is her long term lover, a married man who makes late night visits to her boudoir.

She accuses him of deceiving her, lying about where he was on New Year’s Eve, while he reminds her that he had sent some beautiful flowers. They blame each other for the gradual breakdown in their relationship.

A bitter argument ensues followed by a sudden apology and “make up” kisses as she teases and taunts him. When she disappears off stage for no apparent reason, we sit and wait as he sits and waits sipping whiskey and opening a book.

Pinteresque pauses are rich in moody tension. Here with a serious lack of dialogue, it’s just empty silence during which neither character shows a glimmer of true feeling. Their attempt at a close embrace with vacant expressions looks as if they are just embarrassed at such intimacy.

The problem also lies with the play which was written as a 12 minute sketch, not a fully developed drama in terms of identifiable, named characters or plot. Certainly in this poorly acted, bland revival, the Woman is no match to the fragile, neurotic Blanche DuBois, the Man is no cool, romantic Brick.

Perhaps with a stronger cast, The Pink Bedroom could be dramatised with emotional punch and passion, as a mini “poetic tragedy” of which Williams is renowned.

Show times

Alternate dates between 2-24 August 2013, in repertoire with Wuthering Heights. 10.15am.

See Fringe programme, p 304.

Ticket prices

£7 (£6)