“As long as you have longings, satisfaction is possible.” –Celeste Delacroix Griffin
When you think about the work of Tennessee Williams, you probably expect it to be a little odd, slightly complicated, rather emotionally charged, and certainly a tad dark. Doubtless, the last thing you would expect it to be is—festive? But that’s exactly what you’ll get with A Tennessee Williams Xmas Spectacular: The Mutilated, the latest play by those clever thespians at The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company of New Orleans. And when you mix Tennessee Williams with a little holiday cheer, you get a bit of ho-ho-ho-ing around, plenty of cracked nuts, and much more naughty than nice. But hey, it’s still Christmas.
Set in the dirty, disreputable, and decked halls of the Silver Dollar Hotel in the French Quarter on Christmas Eve, The Mutilated tells the story of Trinket Dugan, one of the hotel’s many wayward residents. Though Trinket is an heiress to an oil fortune and could easily afford a much posher abode, she continues to live in the hotel out of some sense of loyalty or loneliness. She spends her days sipping absinthe frappés in the neighborhood bar, loitering in Jackson Square, lunching at New Orleans’s finest dining establishments, or staying home drinking wine by the jugful. But in addition to being a bit eccentric, Trinket Dugan is also mutilated. We never learn precisely what it is that ails her, but she seems to have some form of chest disfigurement—a fact that she tries at all costs to keep hidden from the world. The only one who knows of her hush-hush mutilation is Celeste Delacroix Griffin, who was formerly her bestie until the two had a huge falling out and stopped speaking. Now, just released from the “pokey” where she served out a sentence for shoplifting, Celeste is bitter and desperate enough to try to get even with her ex-friend by revealing her guarded secret. As the two sort out their personal differences, they interact with an interesting cast of characters, including Bernie, the hotel handyman and receptionist; a priest; a couple sailors on leave; a tubercular Tiny Tim; a bird girl; the Grim Reaper, aka Jack in Black; and a Christmas drag queen.
The Mutilated is entertaining and funny and so very merry and bright, even when it’s somber. And … do you hear what I hear? Turns out this show is a musical, and the Tennessee Williams Theatre Company knows how to do more than just act well—they can sing like herald angels, too! Hark, who needs Christmas caroling when you can have the cast singing, dancing, and prancing their way across stage with far more jingle?
White Christmases are so overrated. Dream of a mutilated one instead. This show has everything to make your spirits bright: boobs, philosophy, cockroaches, cheap wine, a whole lot of Christmas spirit, and even audience participation with chocolate. Plus, Fezziwig (played by Fabigail Tchoupitoulas) has a super-cool, giant Christmas tree-shaped bouffant hairdo that even lights up.
Tis the season for good theater, but hurry, The Mutilated will only be around until December 22nd. So, come out today to see what is surely the best thing to happen to Christmas since LED lights. The Tennessee Williams Theatre Company will put some joy in your world.
A Tennessee Williams Xmas Spectacular: The Mutilated is playing weekends until December 22 at the Zeitgest Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center, 1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. All shows at 8 p.m. For more information or to buy tickets, go to twtheatrenola.com/productions.
Above photos by James Kelley. Photo below by Kathy Bradshaw.