In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Direction: Fred Abrahamse
Set & Costume Design: Marcel Meyer
Cast: Melissa Haiden, Marcel Meyer, Matthew Baldwin, Loreto Cabrera, Souad Cumming
Venues: The Vineyard Hotel, Cape
Dates: July/August 2019
About: 50 years after its world premiere, Tennessee Williams’ haunting, poetic 1969 play received its South African premiere in this immersive staging at the Vineyard Hotel.
In The Bar Of A Tokyo Hotel is a radical re-working of Williams’ earlier 1959 modern Noh play The Day On Which A Man Dies, which Abrahamse & Meyer Productions staged to huge critical acclaim in the USA in 2015 and at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in 2016.
Williams places the action in late 1960s Japan, where Mark, a successful American painter, has holed up in his Tokyo hotel room creating increasingly incomprehensible work. Mark’s wife, Miriam, fearful that he will ruin his reputation, and her standard of living, has summoned Leonard, Mark’s New York agent, for help. Bored while she waits in the hotel bar for Leonard to arrive, Miriam flirts aggressively with the young Japanese barman.
What the Press Said:
“This is hyper immersive theatre – a heady synthesis of theatre, food, wine and Tennessee Williams’ favourite cocktail. It’s intimate and voyeuristic…In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel resonated for me against another Williams’ play The Day on Which a Man Dies, which I was privileged enough to see at the National Arts Festival, also presented by Abrahamse-Meyer Productions. I am immensely grateful that I have had the opportunity to see these two innovatively staged pieces by Tennessee Williams, in South Africa, by a company that has received international acclaim. They don’t simply stretch boundaries of theatre but snap them.” THE CAPE ROBYN
“No matter how artfully a set designer recreates a hotel ambience, there is nothing to rival the real thing…casting is irreproachable, and Haiden as Miriam dazzles…Meyer’s Mark is a figure of heart-melting pathos…Cabrera’s inscrutability, leavened by flashes of acerbic wit, never skips a beat in an impressive performance from so young an actor…Baldwin, as Leonard, has a blandness appropriate to his role and provides a necessary foil to the intensity of the other actor’s personae…with its blend on bone-dry humour, intelligent probing of Western-versus-Oriental cultures, and corrosive depiction of a marriage in its final stages, this Williams masterpiece has aged little since 1969 and has the wherewithal to engross spectators – an artistic tour de force.” WEEKEND SPECIAL
“As they say, the proof is in the pudding, and we were treated to a dinner/theatre performance in the Splash Café. It was transformed rather glitzlily into a Japanese-style bar, with oriental paintings, bright shimmering backdrops and more. Both immersive and disturbing, this version is well worth viewing. Between acts of this richly staged play, courses were served from a Japanese fusion menu…a most delicious evening…excellent theatre, food and company.” THE CAPE TIMES