The Night Of The Iguana

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 24 November 2005, opened 5 December 2005, closed 25 March 2006 at the Lyric Theatre in London

Tennessee Williams's The Night Of The Iguana 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 end meet. The play explores the interactions between the Reverend, Maxime, the widow who owns the hotel, Hannah, a spinster and Charlotte, a brattish teenager. This production which is directed by Anthony Page stars Woody Harrelson as 'Shannon', Clare Higgins as 'Maxine' and Jenny Seagrove as 'Hannah'. 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.

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.

"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.