One of my New Year’s Resolutions this year, besides eating a salad every day and going to FitRec twice a week (spoiler: I haven’t been yet), is to see more theatre in Boston outside of BU. I decided to start early with Company One’s production of Tennessee Williams’ Green Eyes. The concept was exciting to me because the production is set in a hotel room in the Ames Hotel. This restrictive space allows for only 25 seats per performance, and I was so happy to be able to get one.
From the first moment both actors were present, when Claude sat in bed frighteningly still, the tension in the room never dissipated. By the end, the play literally knocked me off my chair. I was seated on a riser, and I kept moving my chair backwards in an attempt to put some distance between myself and the crazy violent sexual power-play going on in front of me. In the play’s final moments, I had gone as far as I could, and the back legs slipped off the riser. But even this incident could not take me out of the world of the play.
There are so many angles one could take when talking about this play, but the theme that has stayed with me the most is the intersection between violence and desire, pleasure and pain. This was perfectly visualized in the sight of Mrs. Dunphey’s bruised, scratched body. She undresses in the first moments of the play, and remains only barely covered for the remainder. Her body, clothed in a sheer white robe, would seem to be an object of sexual desire, but whenever the fabric would slip and reveal a dark bruise or startling scratch, her flesh suddenly became something scary, and almost repulsive. The imprints of fingers on her waist and the slashes on one of her breasts were especially disturbing. The action that was taking place in front of us was horrifying, but the evidence of what had happened before was even more so.
The quick shifts between play and violence, screams of laughter, fear and passion created a sense of unease that permeated the room and stayed with me as I left the theatre. Even now, a few days later, I can see the image of the actress’s bruised body in my mind, and my stomach still twists when I think of it. Overall, perhaps not the most enjoyable night at the theatre, but certainly one that left a lasting impression.