Tennessee Rising is a warm play that goes through the early years of Thomas Lanier Williams (Tennessee Williams). Writer/actor Jacob Storms has Williams moving through life with such grace and ease. Williams, a Southern gentleman with all the breath and depth of a great writer; Storms captures the cadence of Williams brilliantly. Listening to Storms brought the recollection of eloquent speakers of many past performances, particularly movies such as “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” and Clay Shaw in the movie “JFK”.
In seventy minutes, Storms takes us through the early years of the man many consider to be the greatest American writer of all time; his many vast relationships with other writers, how he was inspired by the Group Theater, his relationship with his family and the many lovers that were in his lifetime.
Tennessee Rising is as inspirational as it is informative; the show is not short of poignant and comical moments. The master of Southern Gothic writing is as common as Corn Pone and yet he forged ahead to get out from under the mayhem of having a drunk for a father and a schizophrenic for a sister. The one-man play informs us how Williams came about writing his early plays: Rose tattoo, The Glass Menagerie and Battle of Angels.
With deft direction by Alan Cumming, Tennessee Rising takes the audience from Mississippi to St. Louis, The French Quarter in New Orleans, Provincetown, Boston and New York. Throughout Williams journey in his young life, Storms makes it an eventful evening at the cell theater/ the back patio. in a small outdoor setting, it makes us feel that we are invited into Williams’s life for a short time where he shares stories just for us. Although Storms was difficult to hear at times, the show was entertaining and informative.
Tennessee Rising runs Sundays, April 11 (canceled due to rain), 25, May 9 & 23 at 6pm and Sundays, June 6-27 at 7pm. Running time is 75 minutes. Patrons are required to follow all city-mandated COVID-19 precautions including mandatory mask wearing, limited capacity, filling out a contact-free survey for symptoms and potential exposure, and a digital temperature check upon entry. Nancy Manocherian’s the cell theatre is located at 338 West 23rd Street. Tickets are $20 April 25 – June 27, 2021 at the cell theatre