Plan Your Visit
In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotelby Tennessee Williams
WAR OF WORDS
This intense and personal late-60's Williams one act features the original cast of the 2012 New York production.
Warning: Contains adult situations not suitable for those under 16.
directed by Everett Quinton
starring Regina Bartkoff and Charlie Schick
292 TheatreNew York, NY
Jim Farley & Tom Boland
Bradford House & Motel
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A happy hedonist wife has come to the end of her patience with her husband, a forever-experimenting artist.
The late 1960s resounds throughout Tokyo Hotel in masterful staccato rhythms, which serve as breaks in the lilt of Williams' earlier dialogue, like a hesitation waltz. The legendary Everett Quinton, of New York's seminal Ridiculous Theatrical Company, directs Regina Bartkoff and Charlie Schick's 2012 East Village cult production of the play.
"...Miriam and Mark are really two sides of one person
...whose sensuality and aesthetics are at war.
The obvious chemistry shared in the roles by Bartkoff and Schick,
puts flesh on such symbolic bones."
- Backstage, 2012
About the Play
Williams takes his action to Japan, where Mark, a successful American painter, has holed up in his Tokyo hotel room, dashing out increasingly incomprehensible work.
Mark’s wife, Miriam, fearful he will ruin his reputation – and her standard of living - has summoned Leonard, Mark’s New York agent. Bored while she waits in the hotel bar for Leonard to arrive, Miriam flirts aggressively with a young Japanese barman. Mark comes downstairs, bloody from shaving cuts, paint-spattered from working in his room.
TW Fest audiences will recognize “realistic” explanations for the similar images and story of The Day on Which a Man Dies (TW Fest '09 & '15), written ten years before.
The first production of Tokyo Hotel opened off-Broadway at the Eastside Playhouse, on the Upper East Side, on May 11, 1969. Directed by Hebert Machiz, the production ran for 25 performances and starred Donald Madden as Mark, Anne Meacham as Miriam, and Lester Rawlins as Leonard.
The play was revived in 1983 by the Internationalist Theatre in London, in 2007 by the White Horse Theater Company in Manhattan, in 2012 by 292 Theatre at 292 E. 3rd Street, and in 2016 by the Charing Cross Theatre in London.
About the Production
From Erik Haagensen's review in Backstage.com, March 11, 2012:
Tennessee Williams' 1969 one-act drama "In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel" is not an easy play to like—or do. This portrait of a once-great painter at the end of his artistic rope and his sexually voracious, casually adulterous wife is, as Clive Barnes' New York Times review of the original Off-Broadway production put it, "almost too personal, and as a result too painful, to be seen in the cold light of public scrutiny." So it's a tribute to actor-directors Charles Schick and Regina Bartkoff that they have largely pulled off this metaphorical interior battle for an artist's soul. Watching their knowing production deep in Alphabet City at the tiny 292 Theatre (only two rows of 11 seats, with the first consisting of floor cushions), I thought to myself, This is what it must have been like on a good night at the Caffe Cino.
The play's title is also its sole location. At curtain, we discover Miriam parked there, drinking at a table while putting the moves on the young and handsome Asian barman, who wants no part of her. In what amounts to an extended aria punctuated by reactions from the barman, we learn of her sexual escapades, her need for travel and adventure, and her unhappiness with her husband, Mark. A disheveled Mark staggers into the bar looking for her, dazed and spent by his exertions painting in a new, avant-garde mode and terrified of what he's creating. They quarrel, and she leaves for what may be a sexual encounter as the first scene ends.
In the second scene we meet Leonard, owner of the New York gallery where Mark exhibits, who has been summoned by Miriam. She wants him to fly Mark back home while she continues their planned trip alone. Leonard urges Miriam to stay with her husband, who eventually shows up in as put-together condition as he can muster. But it's not enough, and after more expressions of his artistic insecurities and continued hostilities with Miriam, he collapses and dies.
As Williams makes explicit, Miriam and Mark are really two sides of one person—one with a remarkable resemblance to the playwright—whose sensuality and aesthetics are at war. The obvious chemistry shared in the roles by Bartkoff and Schick, a longtime couple who are also both painters, puts flesh on such symbolic bones. Bartkoff clearly knows exactly what she wants to do with Miriam and mostly does it well, though at the production's first performance she was still tripping over Williams' compellingly fractured dialogue, in which sentences regularly end with articles, prepositions, and verbs. She's adept at Miriam's ever-shifting emotions and forcefully moving in Williams' inspired final moment. Schick makes a daring choice to physically elucidate Mark's fragility and terror in a highly stylized turn that's at times hard to watch but extremely effective.
Wayne Henry is an amusing and empathetic Leonard, toying with what could be an offensive gay stereotype but finding just enough specific humanity to avoid it. Brandon Lim is absolutely terrific as the barman, with superb comic timing and wonderfully expressive eyes that keep the character fully present during long stretches when he can only observe. Lim is also impressive in his execution of choreographer Liz Piccoli's excellent herky-jerky dance depicting the repressed character's inner conflict with his desires.
Indeed, sound designer Trystan Trazon's use of music is an immeasurable asset, as are "visual director" Master Michael Quinn's evocative painted set, which he lights with resourceful care, and heightened costumes. Assistant director Romy Ashby should also get a nod, as she must have served as outside eye and editor for Bartkoff and Schick, responsible for keeping self-indulgence at bay.
About Everett Quinton
An "undoubted New York theatrical treasure and character actor extraordinaire" (The Villager), Everett Quinton has worked for over 40 years as an actor, writer, and designer.
Born in Brooklyn and educated at Hunter College, Everett Quinton moved to New York City in 1976 to join the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, which had been founded nine years earlier by the iconic actor, director, and writer Charles Ludlum. The shows performed by Quinton and his peers laid much of the groundwork for Theatre of the Ridiculous, a genre which frequently explored queer themes, surrealistic design, cross-gender casting, stylized acting, pop culture critiques, and an avant-garde ethic.
Quinton and Ludlum became life partners, co-starring in many RTC productions. Quinton appeared in Ludlam's Medea, The Secret Lives of the Sexists, Salammbo, Galas, The Artificial Jungle and the original production of The Mystery of Irma Vep (Obie and Drama Desk Award). He was also seen in Georg Osterman's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Brother Truckers (Bessie Award); Richard and Michael Simon's Murder at Minsing Manor (Drama League Award); as well as in his own plays: Carmen, Linda, Movieland, A Tale of Two Cities (Obie Award), and Call Me Sarah Bernhardt.
In 1987, Ludlum died from complications from AIDS. Quinton took over as artistic director and kept the company going until 1997.
"Though Mr. Quinton has started out in a new direction," wrote The New York Times in a 1989 interview, "he has taken with him some of Mr. Ludlam's trademarks: the wild comedy, the cross-dressing and the use of a classic work. ''That's what I know,'' he says. ''That's what I come from. I've seen the effect of Charles's work. That's what I have to draw on.''"
Quinton has recently appeared in The Witch of Edmonton at Red Bull Theater, in Devil Boys from Beyond at New World Stages, in The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., and in The McCarter Theatre's A Christmas Carol. He is also a member of Cleveland State University's Summer Stages. Film and TV credits include Natural Born Killers, Big Business, Deadly Illusion, Forever Lulu, Miami Vice and Law & Order.
Dinner Special at Saki
Dreaming of drinks at a Tokyo hotel? Long day's journey around town got you hungry?
Come to Saki for a special $22 dinner offer. Stop in before or after you attend In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel -- just present your ticket stub!
Serving an eclectic Asian menu including sushi and sahimi, noodles, curry, rice, and more.
Make reservations now at (508) 487-4870, or visit the restaurant online at sakiptown.com.