Tennessee Williams' classic play takes place on a veranda overlooking a dark beach at a broken-down Mexican hotel during 1940 and it is from here that the defrocked Reverend Dr T Lawrence Shannon guides tourists around to make ends meet. The play explores the interactions between the Reverend, Maxime, the widow who owns the hotel, Hannah, a spinster and Charlotte, a brattish teenager.
When The Night Of The Iguana was first staged on Broadway in December 1961 it won the Tony Award for 'Best Play'. It was then made into a film which starred Richard Burton, Ava Gardner, Deborah Kerr and Sue Lyon.
Tennessee Williams' other plays seen on stage in London's West End include Sweet Bird of Youth; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; The Night Of The Iguana; Suddenly Last Summer; The Glass Menagerie; and Summer and Smoke.
Original West End London Production 1965 at the Savoy Theatre
Opened 24 March 1965, Closed 29 May 1965 at the Savoy Theatre
The cast featured Vanda Godsell as 'Maxine Faulk', Ian Hughes as 'Pedro', Nicholas Chagrin as 'Pancho', Mark Eden as 'The Reverend Shannon', Roy Stephens as 'Hank', Anthony Collins as 'Herr Fahrenkopf', Olwen Griffiths as 'Frau Fahrenkopf', Mark Hardy as 'Wolfgang', Sandra Boize as 'Hilda', Ruth Kettlewell as 'Judith Fellowes', Sian Phillips as 'Hannah Jelkes', Donald Eccles as 'Jonathan Coffin (Nonno)', Dallas Cavell as 'Jake Latta', and Patricia Shakesby as 'Charlotte Goodall'.
Directed by Philip Wiseman with designs by Peter Farmer.
London Revival 1992 at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
Previewed 31 January 1992, Opened 6 February 1992, Closed 31 August 1992 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre
The cast featured Frances Barber as 'Maxine Faulk', Alex Mollo as 'Pedro', Nick Mollo as 'Pancho', Alfred Molina as 'The Reverend Shannon', Howard Ward as 'Hank', Gertan Klauber as 'Herr Fahrenkopf', Maggie McCarthy as 'Frau Fahrenkopf', Christopher Campbell as 'Wolfgang', Imogen Bain as 'Hilda', Alison Fiske as 'Judith Fellowes', Eileen Atkins as 'Hannah Jelkes', Robin Bailey as 'Jonathan Coffin (Nonno)', Colin Stinton as 'Jake Latta', and Alison McKenna as 'Charlotte Goodall'.
Directed by Richard Eyre with designs by Bob Crowley, lighting by Jean Kalman, music by Richard Hartley, and sound by Paul Groothuis.
1st West End London Revival 2005 at the Lyric Theatre
Previewed 24 November 2005, opened 5 December 2005, closed 25 March 2006 at the Lyric Theatre
The cast featured Clare Higgins as 'Maxine Faulk', Simon Kassianides as 'Pedro', Federico Zanni as 'Pancho', Woody Harrelson as 'The Reverend Shannon', Sean Power as 'Hank', Peter Banks as 'Herr Fahrenkopf', Nancy Baldwin as 'Frau Fahrenkopf', Nichola McAuliffe as 'Judith Fellowes', Jenny Seagrove as 'Hannah Jelkes', John Franklyn-Robbins as 'Jonathan Coffin (Nonno)', Peter Banks as 'Jake Latta', and Jenna Harrison as 'Charlotte Goodall'.
Directed by Anthony Page with designs by Anthony Ward, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by Dominic Muldowney, and sound by Colin Pink.
Anthony Page's West End credits include Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's Enigmatic Variations at the Savoy Theatre in 2000 starring Donald Sutherland. William Gibson's play The Miracle Worker and Richard Harris' thriller Dead Guilty.
"Like all of Williams' work, this is a play about people rather than events. The hotel is similar to one where he himself stayed in Mexico, and the central Harrelson character is another of his wounded loners, a male Blanche duBois who is forever dependent on the kindness of strangers. In this case he is a defrocked priest in a sustained nervous breakdown and prone to panic attacks, which don't go too well with his job as a tour guide for a group of female American schoolteachers... In a very strong cast, Clare Higgins is the sexually rampant manager, Jenny Seagrove the New England spinster, Nicola McAuliffe an outraged member of the tour group and Jenna Harrison as Charlotte Goodall. But Anthony Page's production remains a very clenched, English affair, somehow lacking the steaming sexuality that Richard Burton and Ava Gardner brought to the 1964 John Huston movie... It gives half a dozen actors a rare chance to test themselves, but it still doesn't add up to much of a drama." The Daily Express
"This is the West End at its best: a production ruthlessly unsentimental and poetic in its tone and its values. Tennessee Williams's play does wobble a little, but Anthony Page's magisterial direction takes care of that... Woody Harrelson's failed priest is magnificently and hilariously angry, with no self-pity to sweeten the imagination... Jenny Seagrove gives the most commanding performance of her career." The Sunday Times
"Like so many of Tennessee Williams's dramas, The Night Of The Iguana is filled with overwrought, overblown characters in an over-hot climate, overdoing everything, be it sex, drink, abstinence or outrage. The danger is overkill. Unfortunately, Anthony Page's underpar production suffers from the opposite. Underpowered and underwhelming, it drags, getting nowhere slowly. Woody Harrelson is utterly unconvincing in the Richard Burton role of Shannon, a minister defrocked for seducing young girls. He now works as a tour guide and arrives at a dilapidated hotel in Mexico run by the newly widowed, raddled but randy Maxine with a busload of dissatisfied, disapproving Baptist women schoolteachers. There Shannon has a breakdown. Not that you'd know; I get more upset than he does when I can't find a parking space. Another unwelcome guest appears - a 97-year-old poet who is losing his marbles and is lovingly cared for by his spinster granddaughter, Hannah. Thanks to Jenny Seagrove, who brings calm, grace and intensity to Hannah, the play momentarily comes into focus. In a climactic scene, Shannon reveals his loss of faith and disillusionment with life, and Hannah tells him of an encounter she once had with a seedy underwear salesman, which she touchingly, tragically almost, calls a 'love experience'. Williams's theme, once again, is the isolation that is the human condition, but the impressive Seagrove appears to be the only performer who gets it." The Mail on Sunday
"Woody Harrelson has come a long way from his days pouring drinks behind the bar in TV's Cheers. All the way, in fact, to the west coast of Mexico, where the blowsy and usually tipsy Maxine (Clare Higgins) - 'Bigger than life and twice as unnatural,' says drifter Shannon (Woody Harrelson) - runs a hotel that's more pits than Ritz. Tennessee Williams' play, set in 1940, is about loneliness and despair in a world that appears to be disintegrating. Shannon is a defrocked priest with an eye for very young women - 'Statutory rape is when a man is seduced by a girl under 20,' he complains. On to the hotel verandah, under which is tethered the outsize lizard of the title, wander a succession of misfits, including the no-nonsense guardian of Shannon's latest fancy, and a rootless sketch artist and her doddery old granddad. Harrelson and Clare Higgins gain credibility as the plot unfolds but the acting honours go to Jenny Seagrove as the spinster artist who has come to terms with disappointment. Her big scene with Woody is the highlight of director Anthony Page's production, which blows hot and cold rather than matching the temperature of sweltering Mexico. It's Jenny who'll leave you with a warm glow." The Sun
The Night Of The Iguana in London at the Lyric Theatre previewed from 24 November 2005, opened on 5 December 2005 and closed on 25 March 2006.
2nd West End London Revival 2019 at the Noel Coward Theatre
Previewed 6 July 2019, Opened 16 July 2019, Closed 28 September 2019 at the Noel Coward Theatre
A major revival of Tennessee Williams's The Night Of The Iguana in London starring Clive Owen, Lia Williams and Anna Gunn
The cast featured Anna Gunn as 'Maxine Faulk', Manuel Pacific as 'Pancho', Clive Owen as 'The Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon', Faz Singhateh as 'Hank', Alasdair Baker as 'Herr Fahrenkopf', Penelope Woodman as 'Frau Fahrenkopf', Finty Williams as 'Miss Judith Fellowes', Lia Williams as 'Hannah Jelkes', Julian Glover as 'Jonathan Coffin (Nonno)', Ian Drysdale as 'Jake Latta', Emma Canning as 'Charlotte Goodall', Timothy Blore as 'Wolfgang', Karin Carlson as 'Hilda', with Madeleine Day, Mufrida Hayes, Andrew McDonald, and David Young. Directed by James Macdonald with designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Neil Austin, and sound by Max Pappenheim.
When this production at the Noel Coward Theatre in July 2019, Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph thought that "at three hours, it's sometimes an uphill slog, but the main performances have a persuasive integrity... A valuable enough excursion into the lesser-known terrain of a master...but for the cash-strapped, not worth a huge detour or outlay." Sarah Hemming in the The Financial Times highlighted that, "it's not vintage Williams... but James Macdonald's mesmerising, beautifully acted production revels in both its dry wit and its lugubrious excess, while drawing us through its slow-winding passage from despair to hope... On Rae Smith's evocative set with its looming cliff face, Macdonald creates a heightened, almost surreal atmosphere." Nick Curtis in the London Evening Standard described how "Clive Owen makes a full-throated return to the stage as the soused, lapsed priest in this rare revival of Tennessee Williams's torrid tragicomedy. But the flawed, fascinating evening belongs to Lia Williams and Breaking Bad star Anna Gunn... James Macdonald's direction is deft," and "its core message that kindness and dignity matter, even to lost souls feels pretty refreshing right now." Dominic Maxwell in the Times commented that "there's a thin line between brooding and boring, and Clive Owen steps the wrong side of it in this muted Tennessee Williams revival... The first half has the tang of inauthenticity. The second is quieter and better," adding that there's "a persuasive West End debut from Anna Gunn," and "Lia Williams is excellent as Hannah." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail said that, "if you think you can hack a three-hour trek into the foggy mind of a sweaty outcast, let Clive Owen be your guide... Owen is a class act with range and charisma. Without him, James Macdonald's production might veer off the plot's hairpin bends and plunge into the Pacific." Claire Allfree in the Metro described it as being a "sluggish revival... The Night Of The Iguana is much bigger on stifling atmosphere than it is on plot." Michael Billington in the Guardian said that in "James Macdonaldís typically meticulous production... it is all very well done. Yet, while this is often described as Williamsís last really good play, it carries intimations of his decline. It is full of underdeveloped characters... but it survives through its opportunities for actors and the authorís boundless charity." Aleks Sierz in the i newspaper praised how "James Macdonald's superb revival rightly focuses on the central performances: Clive Owen begins the evening as a nervous fidget... before nosediving into violent paroxysms of delirium... By contrast, both Anna Gunn and Lia Williams are more grounded... Together, all three stars make this a thoroughly moving performance, despite its marathon three-hour length... an emotionally generous production of a generous-spirited classic." Neil Norman in the Daily Express thought that "Tennessee Williams' play is both wayward and moving... But it cries out for radical reimagining and director James Macdonald's conventional staging does nothing to shed light on a play clotted with dark corners and eccentric detail. Clive Owen is eminently watchable but his light-fingered moodiness doesn't capture Shannon's elusive and capricious character."
Clive Owen's London stage credits include the role of 'Bri' in Laurence Boswell's revival of Peter Nichols' A Day in the Death of Joe Egg at the Ambassadors Theatre in 2001; and the role of 'Otto' in Sean Mathias' revival of Noel Coward's Design for Living at the Donmar Warehouse in 1994.
Lia Williams' London theatre credits include alternating the lead roles of 'Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots' and 'Queen Elizabeth I', with Juliet Stevenson, in Robert Icke's revival of Friedrich Schiller's Mary Stuart at the Almeida Theatre in 2016, and transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre in 2018; alternating the roles of 'Kate' and 'Anna', with Kristin Scott Thomas, in Ian Rickson's revival of Harold Pinter's Old Times at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2013; the role of 'Eva' in Alan Strachan's revival of Alan Ayckbourn's Absurd Person Singular at the Garrick Theatre in 2007; the role of 'Rosalind' in Dominic Cooke's revival of William Shakespeare's As You Like It at the Novello Theatre in 2006; the role of 'Ruth' in Robin Lefevre's revival of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming at the Comedy Theatre in 2001; the role of 'Stella' in Joe Harmston's revival of Harold Pinter's The Collection at the Donmar Warehouse in 1998; the role of 'Sarah' in Joe Harmston's revival of Harold Pinter's The Lover at the Donmar Warehouse in 1998; and the role of 'Kyra Hollis' in Richard Eyre's original production of David Hare's Skylight at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre in 1995.
Anna Gunn is probably best known for playing the role of 'Skyler White' in the US AMC's television series Breaking Bad.
Julian Glover's London stage credits include the role of 'John of Gaunt' in Trevor Nunn's revival of William Shakespeare's Richard II at the Old Vic Theatre in 2005; the role of 'Sir' in Peter Hall's revival of Ronald Harwood's The Dresser at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2005; the role of 'Duncan' in Edward Hall's revival of William Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Albery Theatre in 2003; the title role in Barry Byle's revival of William Shakespeare's King Lear at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in 2001; and the role of 'Arthur Birling' in Stephen Daldry's landmark revival of J B Priestly's An Inspector Calls at the Aldwych Theatre in 1993.
"The intense tropical heat is as big a presence in Tennessee Williams' last great play as its epic characters... Washed up in a guesthouse on the coast of Mexico, Clive Owen is utterly hypnotic as he battles his demons in a run-down corner of the jungle. His penchant for young girls is at war with his calling as a priest... Breaking Bad's Anna Gunn also triumphs as the sensuous widow, unabashedly free with her favours, who understands Shannon better than he does himself. But the lifeblood is Owen. His uncomfortable yet gripping performance is his first London stage role in 15 years - but it's well worth the wait." The Sunday Mirror
"Tennessee Williams was a great writer, epic boozer and pillpopper. This rarely seen 1961 play is further proof that he's still the great dramatist of life's sad cases... Clive Owen is funny but he misses the raddled, far-gone quality you get from Richard Burton in the 1964 film version... Nor is Anna Gunn quite right for the over-ripe Maxine... Lia Williams piercingly plays Hannah's loneliness and courage... James Macdonald directs with sure hands. A shame, though, that the captive iguana waiting to be turned into Mexican chicken is never seen... A rather static play, but its sheer generosity to boozers and losers feels cheering." The Mail on Sunday
"James Macdonald's production is luxuriantly staged: breeze-blown mountain ferns, corrugated roofing, a veranda bar, the sound of distant waves and a few canyon echoes to augment the idea that the Costa Verde stands high on its Mexican hill... It is hard to take your eyes off Lia Williams, although she does little in the way of facial expressions or vocal projection. She has a gripping stillness and makes Miss Jelkes a convincing oddity. The problem is that there is little sexual chemistry between her and Clive Owen... Julian Glover is spot-on as Miss Jelkes's nonagenarian grandfather and, despite lasting more than three hours - they should rename it The Long Night of the Iguana - this is a watchable enough show. But Owen's central performance is two-dimensional. He is handsome rather than magnetic or dangerous." The Sunday Times
The Night Of The Iguana in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 6 July 2019, opened on 16 July 2019, and closed on 28 September 2019