Review: Williams’ ‘Out Cry’ is simply out there

The Next Stage, nestled in a Pacific Heights church on Gough Street, is home to a new production of Tennessee Williams’ “Out Cry: The Two-Character Play.”

Although program notes indicate that the storied playwright himself once called it “my most beautiful play since ‘Streetcar,’” this production instead reveals why the theater-going public is intimately familiar with “A Streetcar Named Desire” and not at all with “Out Cry.”

“Out Cry” is simply out there. There’s not much of a discernible plot. The surrealistic two-hour show tells the tale of a brother and sister acting team trapped in a crumbling theater where they perform “The Two Character Play.” Or are they actually performing?

As they chew up the scenery, details of their childhood emerge in bits and pieces, and the audience cannot tell what is fact and what is fiction.

Although the haziness is clearly what Williams intended, it doesn’t make for an involving, invigorating evening of theater.

While unwieldy and not ultimately fulfilling, the show features some intriguing actors (with long résumés) who bill themselves as International Theater Ensemble. They seem to be having great fun, sometimes spewing Williams’ poetic thoughts and acting with a capital A, other times toning down for a softer, more natural moment.

Oleg Liptsin, who also directs, plays the brother, Felice, while Felecia Faulkner plays the sister, Clare. Given that they’re siblings, and the geographical setting of the piece is unknown, it’s notably odd that the brother has a Russian accent and the sister does not.

Another interesting program footnote states that in 1980, Williams signed a copy of the script to Faulkner, encouraging her to play Clare when she was older.

IF YOU GO

Out Cry

Where: Next Stage, 1620 Gough St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; closes June 1

Tickets: $15 to $25

Contact: www.internationaltheaterensemble.com

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