Closed 2h 30m
Summer and Smoke (Classic Stage Company)
East Village
81

Summer and Smoke (Classic Stage Company) NYC Reviews and Tickets

81%
(143 Reviews)
Positive
90%
Mixed
9%
Negative
1%
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Slow, Intelligent

About the Show

This sultry Southern Gothic masterpiece marks Classic Stage Company's first Tennessee Williams production and debut collaboration with the Transport Group.

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Member Reviews (143)

83
Absorbing, Slow, Great acting, Resonant, Intense

See it if Williams' slow burn Gothic romance is performed to the hilt by Ireland & Darrow Emotionally overwritten (naturally) but never overblown

Don't see it if Cummings' minimal staging takes a lot of patience but pays off Forces audience to strip down as emotionally as the leads

95
Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Masterful

See it if Just to see Marin Ireland act is a magnificent day at theater. She is a star that should not be missed. Nathan Darrow does great as Dr. B

Don't see it if Thrust seating creates problems for some re:sight-lines and hearing. It is always a challenge for a director. Read more

Critic Reviews (34)

May 3rd, 2018

"In the otherwise lackluster revival...Ms. Ireland is riveting as the passionate yet prudish Alma Winemiller...This 'Summer and Smoke' has been scraped too close to the bone...If this 'Summer and Smoke' were performed silently you could still understand the story from her physicalization of Alma’s character...It’s the parsimony of the production that’s at fault, offering little that’s lovely except Michael John LaChiusa’s original music, in an apt neoclassical mode."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Transport Group’s exquisite version at CSC is strong enough to power a rocket into orbit—and that’s without mentioning the gigantic performance at its center...Marin Ireland plays Alma Winemiller as though the part had been written for her, and as though it had been written yesterday; her Alma is at once radiant and frightening, as heart-stopping as a painting that looks up and catches your eye...These are the drawbacks of a 1948 play...But elsewhere the revival is grand."
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May 3rd, 2018

"A spare, intelligent, deeply affecting production...The play is verbally lush and at times symbolic to the point of overripeness, but director Jack Cummings III’s light, exacting touch both lifts and elucidates the text...Cummings knows how little fuss-and-stuff a richly layered piece of writing needs to work on stage...Ireland is utterly thrilling as the heart of the production. She’s both a masterful technician and an actor whose emotional presence feels so alive it’s almost dangerous."
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May 4th, 2018

"Smolders with unsatisfied longing thanks to powerful performances and a handsomely pared-down staging...Alma is no shrinking violet as portrayed by the commanding Ireland...She has an instinctual grasp on this character...Darrow plays John with the languid confidence of one who knows he doesn't have to try very hard to be adored...A drama of unexpected richness, 'Summer and Smoke' reaches full bloom in this glorious production."
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May 6th, 2018

"Ireland must be regarded as one of the absolute best actors to regularly grace New York stages...One of the strongest and most engrossing of Williams' not-quite-classics...While the volatile chemistry between Ireland and Darrow is what primarily propels this wondrous production, they're supported by a fine ensemble...A minimalist production that effectively focuses on Williams' words and the captivating performances."
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May 4th, 2018

"Alma and John circle each other...The characters are vividly realized by Ireland and Darrow...Cummings III handles both his stars with assurance, carefully orchestrating their mutual ensnarement...There are moments when this sleek, emotionally acute production runs aground...Even if this is a sometimes flawed production...the poetry is there, and, thanks to the fine leads, it's an opportunity that anyone interested in this great American playwright would be foolish to miss."
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May 3rd, 2018

“An emotionally fraught drama about loneliness, suppressed desire and the eternal quest for love in the face of an overwhelming need for sex...The superb Ireland in a performance of heartbreaking intensity and meticulous desperation...Darrow is sensational in an almost impossible role...It's a shame Cumming's oddly directed production isn't as electrifying as its stars and supporting cast...Distractions of Cumming's making pull the audience out of the action and away from the story.”
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May 3rd, 2018

"First-rate, top-drawer, A-number-one revival...As the nervous, uncertain, giddy to the verge of frequent hysteria Alma, Ireland gives her best performance yet...Just as astonishing is Darrow as Alma’s counterpart John...Apart from eliciting the courageous performances, Cummings’s notable achievement here is to argue silently that 'Summer and Smoke' is easily comparable to 'The Glass Menagerie' and 'A Streetcar Named Desire.'"
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May 3rd, 2018

"Admirers of Williams’ works should make a point of seeing the resonant new revival of this 1948 drama, although the minimalist style of its staging may not appeal to everyone’s taste...What enriches the drama and contributes significantly to this production is an original score composed by Michael John LaChiusa...Smoldering performances by Marin Ireland as Alma and Nathan Darrow as John live up to the play’s title."
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May 4th, 2018

"Cummings III has made the puzzle pieces fit completely in his often-mesmerizing revival...Ireland is sheer perfection as Alma...She's well matched by Darrow...The almost complete lack of scenery and the constant use of miming can make the evening feel like you're watching an acting class...The unevenness of the rest of the cast is a bit surprising...Flaws aside, one's chances to see this striking work don't come along every summer."
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May 10th, 2018

"An anatomical chart becomes one of the very few props in the current Classic Stage Company and Transport Group revival of the 1948 play. Under the circumstances, the many players (a dozen in all) are often reduced to charades, as they describe a new gaudy hat, or a jigsaw puzzle, or gloves. For that matter there's not really a set at all, only a large white platform in the center of the playing area, echoed by a large white rectangle hanging above--a kind of ceiling for the platform."
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May 11th, 2018

"What made Williams a great playwright and what stands out in his better plays is that the women are not just one dimensional. And these characters are best played by remarkably accomplished actresses, such as Marin Ireland...Director Jack Cummings III’s hyper-minimalist approach diminishes several otherwise inspired performances...Ireland inhabits Alma beautifully, but the strange, austere production design distracts from her character’s development."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Ireland is indeed a fine actress, and everyone else on stage did their best, but this super-spare, impressionistic staging somehow lacks energy and clarity. This is a play imbued with emotional richness and lyricism, but it's tapped into only occasionally here...Even in a disappointing production like this, Williams's language still gives Ireland's Alma an opportunity to break our hearts."
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May 4th, 2018

"Cummings III has directed this production brilliantly. It is taught and purposeful yet unhurried...The centerpiece that drives this production is the cathartic performance of Ireland as Alma...She mesmerizes. She dazzles. She tears your heart out. Darrow as Buchanan, complements her work with a committed, nuanced performance...He gives us so much more than the handsome, charismatic yet troubled young man. Ireland and Darrow share a palpable, almost painful chemistry."
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May 4th, 2018

"The production leaves almost too much to the imagination; the pantomiming of every little prop...is more distracting than engaging...Alma, played to Southern twang perfection by Ireland...Williams' poetry flows effortlessly out of the mouth of the impressive Ireland...A powerfully raw performance, almost matched by the more restrained Darrow...Because of Cummings III majestic work...we can't turn away."
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May 4th, 2018

"Cummings III’s production manages to mostly slip the bonds of overwrought melodrama thanks to a minimalist approach, a singular leading lady, and a strong cast overall...I could have watched Ireland’s Alma for days...There are some production missteps which are frustrating...Though many scenes take place around a park and fountain, here there’s just a photograph of the angelic fountain on stage...The power of these ideas falls flat on their easels."
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May 4th, 2018

"Under Cummings III's careful direction, the cast captures the essence of Williams' seminal work...Each member of the ensemble develops her or his character with sensitivity and...delivers an authentic and believable performance...Ireland allows Alma to develop subtly and surreptitiously...Darrow, in a tour de force performance, reveals a John in a lifelong quest for someone to fill his emptiness and his longing...A captivating interpretation in this well thought out production."
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May 5th, 2018

“A minimalist co-production...which feels neither classic nor transporting...The writing is vintage if second-tier Williams, and the production has a fine 12-member cast. The clear standout is Ireland, offering another performance that allows us intimate access to a character’s vulnerability...The writing and the acting would certainly be more affecting...if it weren’t for the distraction of the staging...’Summer and Smoke’ has some flaws that are hard to ignore today.”
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May 3rd, 2018

"Thankfully, due to a spectacular performance by Marin Ireland in a top-flight co-production by Classic Stage Company and The Transport Group, Alma is back in one of the best revivals of a Williams play in recent memory...Brilliantly brought to life by Ireland, Alma is a walking ganglion of nerves...Director Jack Cumming III economically directs the drama, placing equal weight on both the play’s apparent symbolism and unsuspected humor."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Removing all traces of traditional investiture and treating the play as if it were a cousin of…noh theatre…deprives it of all-important atmosphere…and specificity of locale…Scenes blend into one another with barely any distinct lighting shifts…creating vague transitions and doing a serious disservice to the narrative and the characters' evolutions. Too often it's simply impossible to know where the action is taking place, as if place had nothing to do with the playwright's intentions at all."
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May 3rd, 2018

"The lack of any division of space sometimes makes it difficult to discern where a scene is taking place...Director Jack Cummings III deals effectively with the problem of playing to an audience seated on three sides. I was glad to have the opportunity to see this minor play by an important American playwright, but I disliked a lot about the production."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Makes clear the play’s strengths, as well as its many weaknesses...The beauty of Ireland’s performance is that she resists becoming hysterical...Cummings’ direction in no way softens, disguises, or attempts to deconstruct the crude mechanics of Williams’s plot...Only when Ireland and Darrow are on stage alone — and they are for long stretches of magnificent dialogue — does this 'Summer and Smoke' actually catch fire to give glimpses of a play worth staging and seeing."
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May 4th, 2018

“Although Marin Ireland gives a riveting performance...the bare-bones production...is more like a dramatic reading than a full-fledged mounting...The staging is bereft of all atmospherics...Much audience imagination is required...Fortunately, the acting does justice to Williams’s characters and plot...Ireland certainly makes her own strong mark in the role, even in this scaled-down production...The poetic sensibility of Williams comes through.”
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May 12th, 2018

"I'm not sure it's the best introduction to this play because director Jack Cummings III has created such a minimalist production...But what the play does have is yet another glorious performance by Marin Ireland...The play's success rests on Alma's shoulders....Ireland's Alma is simultaneously aware of her beauty and frightened of it...This take on the role, the acquiescent undoing of an intelligent and sensual woman, deepens its poignancy."
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May 6th, 2018

“Ireland giving yet another ravishing performance in a first-rate revival...In less capable hands, it is easy to see how Williams’ heavy handed and melodramatic plot loaded with symbolism might miss the mark. Not so in this spell-binding production...Every performance is finely keyed...Cummings allows his actors, and the text, to shine uninhibited...A revelatory triumph and a fitting tribute to the enduring power and beauty of Williams’ writing.”
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May 3rd, 2018

"Near-perfect...The bitter truth at the heart of 'Summer and Smoke' is the anti-romance that flows between them, the attractiveness of both actors fooling and wrongfooting us as we watch them...The sole rankling note in the production is the portrayal of casino owner Papa Gonzales...This doesn’t detract from an otherwise intelligent and immaculately staged production...The CSC and Transport Group’s rescue-from-obscurity mission is a sublime triumph."
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May 5th, 2018

“An interesting, stripped-down coproduction...Ireland delivers a standout performance, adept at illustrating the tensions — internal and external — that consume and exasperate her character...Darrow does not equal Ireland’s nuanced efforts, though there are genuinely moving scenes between them, and even the occasional hint of chemistry...The directorial choices...for the revival are minimalist...Actors mime almost every action...to showcase the text.”
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May 5th, 2018

“The current revival discards the realistic trappings of mid-20th-century American theater and features a nearly ideal cast...Ireland and Darrow display remarkable chemistry. They’re supported by an ensemble of 10 who furnish Southern Gothic flavor without capitulating to stereotypes...Everything about this handsome revival conspires to rescue Williams’ text from the dominion of 20th-century naturalism.”
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May 3rd, 2018

"Cummings III helms this tepid allegory that pits human desire against morality but has done it in such a way that all of the tension is threadbare...Ireland is deeply layered and fully grasps the psychological depth of Alma...She delivers a stunning performance...The same cannot be said for much of her fellow cast members, all of whom seem to be - stylistically - in different shows...Williams' work is tragic enough. It doesn't require the death knell of mediocre treatment."
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May 6th, 2018

"A quite solid melodrama, the closest thing to a bodice ripper Williams wrote, while still having the penetrating insight into human psychology that never left him. Cummings III has shorn the play of anything but the most important elements...Cummings focuses on a fiercely precise rendering of language and characters, two of Williams’s greatest strengths...Ireland is easily the best Alma I’ve seen...Nathan Darrow has exactly the languid charm needed to give life to this decidedly lost soul."
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May 3rd, 2018

"Cummings III has given Williams' play a renewed sense of universality...Ireland gives us an Alma with torn insides...Darrow reveals a boy, and eventually a man, who wants to break away from the societal constraints on seeking pleasure...Both of these performers show us the pain and exasperation these two would-be true lovers go through...They handle Williams' poetic language as common speech, giving it a uniquely powerful quality...Disturbingly real and sadly true."
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May 7th, 2018

"The production is stripped down to its essential relationships..A physical prop in the final scene is impactful, but miming the others, like John’s stethoscope and Alma’s mother licking an ice cream cone, can be distracting...Ireland captures the playwright’s intent..Darrow is a laid-back John, Jr., even in the fellow’s reckless stage. It does amplify the ‘opposites attract’ element, but seems to slow the proceedings."
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May 4th, 2018

"The cast is stellar. Ireland's portrayal as Alma is reminiscent of the legendary haunting performance by Geraldine Page...Darrow is also convincing as the boy next door...The plot is almost secondary to the affecting language of Williams, spoken especially through the voice of Alma. The audience keeps waiting excitedly for more of her poetry...Walsh also stands out in portraying the difficult role of Mrs. Winemiller."
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May 4th, 2018

“A dazzling revival...Captures all of the marvelous language of Williams...Much of the credit for the success of the play, surely one of Williams’s finest, must go to director Jack Cummings III...Does an admirable job of moving the play along...One drawback is that even though this is the pre-war South, you do not get much U.S. or Mississippi, history in it...The acting in the play is marvelous....A sweet, and yet thunderous, revival.”
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