New York | 2h 30m | Already closed

Summer and Smoke (Classic Stage Company)

From 34 critic and 141 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Absorbing, Great writing, Slow, Intense

About the show

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

In turn-of-the-century Mississippi, the local minister’s daughter walks the line between piety and sensuality with the neighborhood doctor who grew up next door.

2h 30m | Already closed | Classic Stage Company (East Village)


"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." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"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.'" Full Review

Time Out New York

"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." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"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." Full Review

Daily Beast

"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." Full Review

Stage Left

“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.” Full Review

Front Row Center

"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." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"The production leaves almost too much to the imagination; the pantomiming of every little 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." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"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." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"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." Full Review

History News Network

“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.” Full Review

Theater News Online

"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." Full Review

Off Off Online

“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.” Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

"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." Full Review


"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." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"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." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

"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." Full Review

Broadway & Me

"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." Full Review


“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 showcase the text.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

"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." Full Review

Scene on Stage

"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." Full Review

New York Theater

“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.” Full Review

Broken hearts and shattered dreams.

See it if Southern Gothic heartbreakers, Tennessee Williams-style, are your idea of theatre at its best.

Don't see it if you find Williams' dramas, with their simmering passions and unfulfilled lust, more than a little overwrought.

Also Set on a bare white stage that is, with the exception of a few straigh... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Epic, Intelligent, Romantic

See it if you enjoy exquisite acting & simple staging. Gorgeous language & emotion with echoes of Orpheus, Streetcar, & short "The Yellow Bird"

Don't see it if you can't sit still & quiet & absorb the language, archetypes, and angst of Williams. It's an emotional workout.

Absorbing, Must see, Great staging, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you like Tennessee Wilman's plays. This one is a classic. All of the acting was excellent especially Marin Ireland. An honor to see it.

Don't see it if you need to see traditial staging of classic theater. Also din't see it if you need a fast moving play with lots of scenery.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Masterful, Must see

See it if You want to see a mesmerizing performance from Marin Ireland

Don't see it if You are not a fan of stripped down versions of classics

Also I can’t say praise this production enough. The stripped down set reall... Read more Read less

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.

Also imaginary props,.... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, A wonderful revival

See it if The brilliance of Tennessee Williams' writing brought to life through the acting of an excellent cast led by the magnificent Marin Ireland.

Don't see it if If you can't deal with no scenery and have no imagination

Absorbing, Great acting, Clever, Exquisite, Delightful

See it if You want to see excellent writing and acting combined.

Don't see it if You don't like minimalist stagings (lack of props).

Absorbing, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you know what's good for you and what's good for you is marin ireland in what is definitely and secretly tennessee williams' best play

Don't see it if you don't like ugly crying in public, you're an actor with anxiety issues who'll fall into a sinkhole at a truly untouchable performance

Also just kidding about that last part see it anyway it's worth the sinkhol... Read more Read less

Must see, Great acting, Exquisite

See it if Marin Ireland's roller coaster performance is not to be missed. Jack Cumming's minimalist staging is exceptionally transparent.

Don't see it if You don't like Tennessee Williams.

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Intelligent, Must see

See it if If you are a fan of Tennessee Williams. Marin Ireland gives a terrific performance.

Don't see it if If you don't care for Tennessee Williams.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Resonant, Riveting

See it if you appreciate superb writing, delicate characterizations, painful human situations

Don't see it if you only enjoy action and you lack both patience and compassion

Masterful, Sexy, Profound, Great acting

See it if You want to see a masterful production of one of Tennessee Williams' lesser-known masterpieces

Don't see it if You dislike minimalist staging

Also I read this play in college, but I don't feel like I really understood... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Riveting, Must see, Great writing

See it if You want to see this Lesser know Tennessee Williams play with Amazing lead performances. A terrific cast and very talented cast all around.

Don't see it if You only want a fully staged (props, sets) play (this has minimal staging but full costumes) or don’t like Williams.

Also Wonderful chemistry between the leads. Ireland is giving a career best... Read more Read less

Profound, Great writing, Great acting

See it if you want to see a Tennessee Williams play with masterful performances. If you want to be profoundly affected.

Don't see it if you don't like dramas that run deeply below the surface or force you to think and consider multiple facets of difficult subjects.

Also I was wow'd by the performances especially by the two leads. I was als... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting

See it if you're a Tennessee Williams fan and/or love a classic piece of drama.

Don't see it if Southern drama is not your thing.

Also I loved this production and think Mr. Williams would have been pleased... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Minimalist, Sexy

See it if You want the chance to see a compelling production of a lesser known Tennessee Williams play, featuring great acting.

Don't see it if You dislike minimalist sets, mime instead of props, and an unfortunate dose of racial stereotyping.

Also I found this production engrossing, as it focused on the words and emo... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Masterful, Great acting

See it if Opposing morals clash like the tension between body and soul and the inner and the outer you. Great spartan prod w/ concise acting by leads.

Don't see it if Bare stage forces the imagination and focuses concentration. No lighting changes for 2.5 hrs. My head hurts. Marin's tics consume 2nd act.

Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You want to see a fascinating early Williams play featuring version 0.1 of Blanche and Maggie and.....

Don't see it if You want realistic and linear direction. This is definitely a strange staging.

Also Williams is a hothouse flower. This icy and cold setting of the play i... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting

See it if You want to be transported by an ephemeral, exquisite, and expressive actress, Marin Ireland. The play is a low-key prelude to Streetcar.

Don't see it if You prefer fast-paced, happy tales.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intense, Intelligent

See it if You are a Tennessee Williams fan - simmering love & family obligations in Mississippi. Marin Ireland & a stellar cast!

Don't see it if You do not like a slow, unfolding Southern drama. Characters are typical church goers v sinners. Very sexy implications. Minimal set.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You love Tennessee Williams writing. Brilliant performances.

Don't see it if You don't love Tennessee Williams and plays about the sadness of human interaction.

Profound, Masterful, Great acting, Entertaining, Absorbing

See it if you relish bare bones productions of difficult material by good casts and wonderful lead performers. The play and the players are it here.

Don't see it if if Tenn. Williams characters don't resonate for you and you need elaborate sets and costumes to create the atmosphere.

Great acting

See it if Tennessee Williams. First-class actors, led by Marin Ireland. Minimalist.

Don't see it if Focus on language and the movement of the person...can be both engaging and distracting.

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

Resonant, Slow, Great writing, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if You are a Williams fan -- the language is terrific. You want it see a fine performance by Marin Ireland. She is great.

Don't see it if Need splash and sizzle.

Cast & Creatives (21)