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The Night of the Iguana

Iguanas are ugly creatures, but they bleed and feel pain just like the rest of us; when you tie them up, they squeal; and when they are free, they follow the same basic pursuits as all animals.

Cajardo Lindsey as the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon
Cajardo Lindsey as the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon
In this case, the iguana is, at least most obviously, the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon (Cajardo Lindsey), who has lost his pulpit and was committed to an asylum for a spell for questioning the soundness of mind of the anthropomorphic Judeo-Christian diety. Such are the details that fill Tennessee Williams' famous drama, which illustrates, as well as any of his masterpieces, his sublime lyricism and mythological vision of everyday life.

Cajardo Lindsey as the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon and Rhonda Lee Brown as Maxine Faulk
Cajardo Lindsey as the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon
and Rhonda Lee Brown as Maxine Faulk
As the action commences, "Larry" has, once again, gotten himself in hot water, overstepping the bounds of "Christian" decorum by taking his church tour group off the beaten path, into the Mexican rain forest where an old flame, Maxine Faulk (Rhonda Lee Brown), is the proprietess of a run-down hotel. There, he meets Hannah Jelkes (Paige L. Larson), a virginal artist who has spent her adult life taking care of her elderly grandfather, Nonno (Roger I. Simon), an increasingly senile poet trying to finish his last verse. Larry further complicates the moral landscape by bedding a 16-year old girl, Charlotte Goodall (Kenzie Kilroy) under the nose of the hard-ass church-group matron, Judith Fellowes (Kellie Rae Rockey), who excoriates him for this.

Director Rick Bernstein brings home the bacon with this one, evoking gritty, larger-than-life performances from his spot on cast. Brown's battle-hardened yet lascivious Maxine lights a fire under the proceedings, first with her handsome, young hunk, er ... employee, Pedro (Samuel Gilstrap), and then with Lindsey's quirky—sometimes sympathetic; sometimes twisted—Shannon, who draws on archetypal Caliban-like qualities to manifest an iguana in human form.

Paige L. Larson as Hannah Jelkes and Roger I. Simon as Nonno
Paige L. Larson as Hannah Jelkes
and Roger I. Simon as Nonno
Larson's nuanced Hannah is stunning, providing a powerful, Shavian-like case for chaste spirituality. Simon's Nonno adds a delightfully ethereal quality to the mix, as if the playwright were illustrating his own struggle to write a defining coda to his life. Solid supporting work from Rockey, as the butch Fellowes, Kilroy as the Lolita-like Charlotte (Sue Lyons played this role in the award-winning movie), Verl Hite as a couple of dubious characters, and Marisa Rydzy, Mark Lively, and Tyler Collins, as the shallow, but disturbing German guests. Richard H. Pegg's weather-beaten, tropical set and Karilyn Pytel's stormy, split-second lighting effects, top off Bernstein's gem.

Miners Alley Playhouse's The Night of the Iguana runs through October 23rd. 303-935-3044 or www.minersalley.com.

Bob Bows

 

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