Handling the play with the greatest respect for the unique subtleties of the great playwright Tennessee Williams, A Noise Within presents a haunting production of “The Eccentricities of a Nightingale.” Focused acting and sensitive direction are complemented by artistic scenery, lighting and sound.
Similar to Williams’ classics “The Glass Menagerie” and “Streetcar Named Desire,” the lesser-known “Eccentricities of a Nightingale” is the story of an emotionally raw young woman caught in a world that doesn’t understand her. It is a study of unfulfilled dreams and unrequited love, but also personal empowerment.
In keeping with Williams’ tradition of encouraging innovative, expressionistic staging, scenic designer Joel Daavid created a three-dimensional Victorian-era backdrop with turning gears and screens for flickering film images and actors’ silhouettes. The music-hall-era soundtrack adds to the Steampunk feel.
The scenery also suggests an antique bird cage, a fitting setting for the central character, Alma Winemiller (played by Deborah Puette), a socially awkward woman longing for freedom of expression but caught in the cage of a stifling family. It’s classic Williams. Alma falls in love with an aspiring doctor next door, but his mother will have none of it. Alma and the doctor continue to have strange and emotionally prickly rendezvous but their relationship never fully develops. Director Damaso Rodriguez handles the delicate subject matter of this eccentric spinster’s unrequited love with care, and the actors, for the most part, play their parts with depth and controlled emotion.