I went to see 2 short plays by Tennessee Williams at the Pentameters Theatre in Hampstead a few days ago - 'I Can't Imagine tomorrow' and 'Something Unspoken'. Wow - what an experience.
The theatre itself, above a pub, was something else. I have never seen anything like it before, and I doubt that there is anywhere else in London quite like it. It is small and intimate and felt rather like stepping back in time, into a glorified and very large front room. The decor was amazing and there were pictures on the walls, particularly showing the history of the theatre and times gone by. One could chose one's seat and there were an interesting variety of seats, some armchairs, sofas and upright chairs with cushions.
I love Tennessee Williams plays but had never heard of these 2 before, so that also intrigued me.
And 'Something Unspoken', in particular, dealt with such an important topic that I thought that I would blog it.
'Something Unspoken' dealt with lesbian themes at a time when the subject was very much taboo. Hence, the 2 females in the play - employer and employee felt that they had lesbian feelings for each other but no way could they express them overtly. Cornelia, the employer tried to confront what had been suppressed, saying that there seemed to be 'something unspoken' between them. She gives Grace 15 roses - one for each of their anniversaries as Grace has been working for Cornelia for 15 years. But Grace cannot bear to address the topic in this overt way; not surprising as she, being the employee is in the more vulnerable position. They are also continually being interrupted in their attempt to articulate their feelings by other sounds - in particular, the phone keeps ringing; there is also the music playing on the gramophone player. And of course, this is what happens in life - we are being continually interrupted.
I thought it was a fascinating and important play because not only was it bravely addressing the largely taboo topic of lesbianism at the time, but the basic idea about the difficulty of trying to express oneself on certain difficult topics, can also be widened far beyond the lesbian theme.
In fact, do not many of us sometimes engage with this way of conversing, in some way or other? We try to articulate some things, some topics that are very difficult to articulate (for various reasons, including the obvious one of society's prejudice) and find it near-on impossible. And so it becomes 'something unspoken' and we try to communicate it in ways other than the normal verbal means of communication between one another. In fact, this is one of the reasons that novels and plays are so powerful anyway. They allow us a form of expression that is not possible through non-fiction writing. I mean, many novels are based on autobiographies and the novelists' actual experiences. So the raw truth becomes somewhat disguised and becomes something that is in some way largely unspoken. Music is another alternative mode of expression; but of course that is largely even more camouflaged.