note: entire contents copyright 2004 by Beverly Creasey
It’s wonderful to revisit a masterpiece (some might say an old chestnut) but whichever you call Tennessee Williams’ THE ROSE TATTOO, the Huntington makes it fresh again…and a lot funnier than most productions do. Director Nicholas Martin makes everyone slightly caricatured who is peripheral to the larger-than-life widow at the center of the play. When her husband made love to her, Serafina felt his tattoo transfer to her body for fleeting moments, so strong was their passion. Now she pines day and night for his touch, not leaving the house, not dressing, not living…until the day a stranger, a trucker like her husband, lands on her doorstep. Andrea Martin is a skilled comedienne. Her widow possesses a wry and sardonic wit and Dominic Fumusa, as the trucker, is no slouch in the comedy department. If only the director had cut the frequent mentions of her avoirdupois. Andrea Martin is tiny and svelte. Her widow is a bundle of dynamite in a small package, making her ferocity all the more touching but every time her girth is mentioned, we’re taken out of the moment. Her plight is more pitiable because she is so small, so lost in every sense. Martin makes it [her size] work for her but we ought not to be reminded that Williams intended a “plumper” actress in the role. Director Martin’s production is in constant motion: children at play, goats on the loose, gossips listening at the door (in James Noone’s busy, rotating set). The townspeople are ever present, adding to Serafina’s claustrophobia, reason enough to grab the brass ring when it is within reach. Director Martin focuses on Mangiacavallo as the calm at the eye of the hurricane, the port for Serafina’s storm. Hooray for the Boston actors Martin has cast in the supporting roles. Veterans like Bobbie Steinbach and Cheryl McMahon know how to infuse a role, even a small one, with excitement and individuality. Bravo to Nancy E. Carroll as the all-knowing hag, to Melinda Lopez as Serafina’s loyal confidante, to Timothy Crowe as the kindly doctor/later the smarmy salesman and to Diego Arciniegas as the meddling priest. See the Huntington production, then rent the Anna Magnani/Burt Lancaster movie to see how two directors can create two different worlds with the same script. It’s a revelation.