* Tribeca Playhouse, New York City * Written by Tennessee Williams * Directed by Jeff Cohen

*Small Craft Warnings* is Tennessee Williams’ 1972 version of a classic genre of American drama -- you know, the one about a ragtag assortment of lost souls seeking solace and salvation in a crummy bar. Monk’s Place serves as refuge and battlefield for genteel hooker Violet, her sad-sack companion Steve, illegal abortionist Doc, ball-busting beautician Leona, her overgrown boy-toy Bill, and a couple of gay passersby, Quentin and Bobby. They drink, they fight, and each one gets a spotlit soliloquy (the play began as a one-act called *Confessional*).

In its first major production, the play got less attention than the cast, which included Warhol superstar Candy Darling as Violet, legendary acting teacher Bill Hickey as Steve, and Williams himself in the role of Doc. It will never rank with the playwright’s best work, but the Worth Street Theater Company’s revival -- first mounted last summer and brought back for an open-ended run -- makes a case for its moody pleasures. Artistic director Jeff Cohen’s balances Williams’ trademark mixture of rough honesty and lyricism, the broken hearts hiding behind foul-mouthed facades. The performances are erratic. Cristine McMurdo-Wallis should dominate the proceedings, but she’s too earthbound. Meanwhile, David Greenspan as Quentin, the character onstage the least, walks off with the show.

Greenspan is one of the best-kept secrets in the American theater. He’s kind of a genius, a highly idiosyncratic writer and director who in recent years has devoted his energy to acting in other people’s work (most notably the 1996 revival of *The Boys in the Band*, which won him an Obie). Far removed from the naturalism of TV and movies, his extremely stylized, riveting, even scary performance takes you deep inside the soul of a very smart, very drunk, very self-hating homosexual circa 1967. Connoisseurs of fine acting won’t want to miss it.

You shudder to think of Quentin’s one long diatribe as Williams’ grim self-portrait or his sweeping summation of gay life. But when Bobby, the hippie boy Quentin picked up on the road, refers to him sweetly as “the man with the hangup,” you realize that Williams knew as much about the light as the dark.

 The Advocate, June 20, 2000

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