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The Gentleman Caller

From 19 critic and 145 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Entertaining, Clever, Funny, Absorbing

About the show

This new drama that takes us back in time before the Chicago premiere of 'The Glass Menagerie.' William Inge, a dissatisfied newspaper critic, invites Tennessee Williams to his St. Louis apartment for an interview. More…

Although now regarded as two of history’s finest American playwrights, back in 1944, William Inge and Tennessee Williams hadn’t yet experienced anything close to success. 'The Gentleman Caller' details a sexy, fraught rendezvous that sparks a relationship, which radically alters the course of their lives and the American Theatre.


"Philip Dawkins' humorous and poignant 'The Gentleman Caller,' which is still running in Chicago in its world premiere production, is a fascinating and intimate view of two very famous American playwrights whose private lives may not be so well known to the public. While the depiction of William Inge leaves much to be desired, Juan Francisco Villa's exceptional portrayal of the young Tennessee Williams is one you will not soon forget." Full Review

Front Row Center

“Dawkins’s raucous comedy...Or, looked at another way...fact-based drama...This production tries to have it both ways and, for the most part, it succeeds...Villa sometimes looks and sounds like a young Orson Welles...Villa’s grandiosity is in keeping with the playwright’s larger than life reputation...Isaac has more room to mold the lesser known Inge and manages a fine balance between comic and suicidal desperation...Speciale knows how to build laughs while drawing out tension.” Full Review


"Williams' narration comes at us at a furious clip and with a dazzling ferocity that could easily make the unprepared a bit dizzy even as it delights the rest of us...The play is at its best in the first half when it celebrates the unlikely attraction of two gifted gay bachelors who couldn't be more different...Whatever the dramatic liberties taken by the playwright, they don't seem so farfetched but are credible and cleverly integrated." Full Review

Drama Queen NYC

"Speciale has staged the play somewhat athletically, and with a strong sense of what Williams described as 'plastic theatre' – a theatre that is simultaneously sculptural and kinetic. This is especially true in the sexual byplay, but pervades every moment of the production...It took a while for my ear to tune to the purpleness of Dawkins’s prose, but once it had, 'The Gentleman Caller' had many pleasures to offer. Recommended." Full Review

Off Off Online

“Combines kernels of fact with lots of fancy...Beginning as a rowdy pastiche of sex comedies...The play turns darker in a handful of well-written monologues that are highly engaging but don’t add up to a convincing portrait of either character...A memory play that riffs on themes from the two playwrights' works and lives...The actors’ energetic performances and Speciale’s fast-paced direction compensate for—or, at least, divert attention from—the script’s shortcomings.” Full Review

Times Square Chronicles

“Both actors are fabulous in their own rights. Villa brings a fire to Tennessee that ignites the tension and keeps Inge on his toes...Isaac keeps the introverted Inge tightly wound, but I found his flamboyance to be a bit strong...Direction by Tony Speciale is excellent and entertaining. He pulls the comedy from even the darkest of moments. A bit fast in places, but it helps keep this lengthy play moving and not too tiresome...A tad long, this play is certainly one to see.” Full Review


“An intriguing – if sometimes questionable – depiction of these two pillars of 20th Century American theater at a crucial point in their lives...The appeal lies to a great extent in the performances of its two actors...Performances worth watching. Still, the proceedings aren’t convincing enough to keep you from wondering, while it’s going on, what Inge and Williams themselves would have thought about this attempt to lay bare their friendship.” Full Review

City Cabaret

"Despite the banter and some teasing, there is no sexual chemistry between Williams and Inge although they seemed to enjoy each other's company...Dawkins refers often to characters in the plays written by these playwrights...After a few of these references, they feel gratuitous...Tony Speciale's meandering direction lightens the talky book by zeroing in on Williams' wit and in-and-out Southern drawl." Full Review

New York Theater

"Little specifically about their plays, or the playwrights’ shared history, makes its way into 'The Gentleman Caller'...Some of Tenn’s one-liners feel forced and fall flat, but it’s easy to imagine most of these as failed efforts by the overly ebullient character of Tenn rather than by the author of 'The Gentleman Caller'...Dawkins’ writing is at its most thought-provoking when he has Tenn argue for the connection between homosexuality and creativity." Full Review

Broadway Blog

"It’s an interesting proposition that achieves varying degrees of success...What’s missing in director Speciale’s staging is chemistry between the two men and any sort of plot that pushes the action forward...Villa’s fleeting Southern drawl is an occasional distraction while Isaac’s uptight Inge warms as the evening wears on only to be diminished by a fit of over-the-top frantic staging at play’s end...Dawkins’ play pays decent homage to their works but ultimately left me craving the originals." Full Review


“The absence of sexual chemistry between our two protagonists feels like a lost opportunity to explore how gay relationships often defy easy categorization...Speciale delivers an admirably physical staging of this talky play, but the tone occasionally slips into farce...It's amusing to watch, but detracts from what the characters are actually...Dawkins gives us some of that in an epilogue that is unsatisfying as an ending, but also the best writing in the play.” Full Review


"How does such a historically fascinating, sexually charged premise turn out to feel so tedious?...They speak in cliches that would make both playwrights cringe as they circle each other for two hours generating plenty of friction but not much heat...Winding conversations between the two budding minds frequently take sharp turns without warning, maneuvers that might generate drama if we better understood the momentum behind them." Full Review

The New York Times

"Dawkins lets a surfeit of biographical information overwhelm his play...Slipping in and out of realism, blending biography with melodrama and camp, Mr. Dawkins’s play is mostly a lot of talk...This is the dialogue of characters obliged to fill in not only the details of their lives, but also the themes, along with unsubtle allusions to their plays...Tony Speciale’s bumpy production feels like it needed more time to find its groove, and for the actors to hone their performances." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Humor without substance or emotion can be nothing more than a manner to foist laughter, and there is enough risible physicality, references and one liners woven into this dialogue to undermine the essence at the core of his two characters...The second act is a repeat of the first act, nothing new happens to add depth...This may be an entertaining evening, but not what one would expect when delving into the distressed personal lives of two extraordinary talents of the twentieth century." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"The contrast between Villa, overacting his mustachioed, annoyingly pompous character, and Isaac's repressed, prissy Inge…suggests a literary version of 'The Odd Couple'…Bitchiness…is pervasive in 'The Gentleman Caller,' which revels in the men's attraction for one another…and the cattiness of their sniping...The play is also unconvincingly preoccupied with imagining…Williams and…Inge engaging in lots of sexual or romantic hanky-panky, including an outlandish bit of voyeurism." Full Review

This Week in New York Blog

“Dawkins uses creative license as he relates what might have happened...The play never really catches fire...No sense of connection between Williams and Inge...Some charming moments but it’s all just a little bit too quaint and calculated...Choppy narrative with questionable plot developments...Doesn’t add much insight into how the relationship between these two great playwrights might have influenced their lives and careers.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Entirely frivolous and free of insight...Substitutes sitcom boisterousness for anything like real feeling...A head-scratcher...The main trouble...aside from the fact that it dawdles badly, indulging itself with too many coarse jokes, is that neither Dawkins nor Speciale have much feeling for the characters...When given a halfway decent line, Villa gives it some zing...But the performance is pitched too high, noisily pushing for laughs, so we get almost no sense of the conflicts.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“A ludicrously presumptuous two-act play...All the unlikely cat-and-mouse behavior—Williams the cat, Inge the mouse—is additionally undercut by the odd casting. Villa does bear a strong resemblance to Williams, although he portrays the playwright as unusually confident and without the slightly distrait air the playwright so often exhibited.” Full Review

Theater Time

"Maddeningly annoying...Dawkins falters here big time...Is hard to believe that they carried on in such a wildly campy and frightfully silly manner...Villa appears to be a fine actor yet under Tony Speciale’s overbooked direction he becomes frustratingly obnoxiously loud and becomes more of a caricature of the late playwright instead of a true portrayal...Isaac never seems to gain a grasp on his character...Turned into a doltish affair by both playwright and director." Full Review

Hilarious, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Delightful

See it if you are fascinated with the writer’s journey, T. Williams, W. Inge, and their relationship; no one gets woman’s pathos like gay men.

Don't see it if you don’t like the plays of Williams or Inge, avoid exhibited gay sexuality, prefer large cast musicals/plays requiring no thought, or short

Intelligent, Funny, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you are obsessed with Tennessee's FABulous. Funny, reverent, outstanding performance by Juan Francisco Villa as TW.

Don't see it if you don't already love Glass Menagerie, Streetcar, Cat...lots of TW character & play refs & "Easter Eggs" + gay themes & seduction.

Also This play reflects so much care about Tennessee Wms-- the set, the cos... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Delightful, Clever, Absorbing, Disappointing

See it if loved it....perfect for a small venue

Don't see it if You don’t care for two character shows... Or Tennessee williams

Quirky, Great writing, Hilarious, Great acting, Clever

See it if you enjoy shows that play and embellish known historical figures with intelligence and insight.

Don't see it if you have younger audience members with you. It doesn't get too graphic, but may not be appropriate for all.

Must see, Great writing, Great acting, Captivating, Sensual

See it if You would enjoy a fictionalized account of a meeting between Williams and Inge that is smartly written and brilliantly acted.

Don't see it if You don't like plays with gay themes or not interested in these two playwrights

Also Can't say enough about the writing and acting in this show. It was fun... Read more Read less

Raunchy, Quirky, Hilarious, Great acting, Clever

See it if are a fan of Tennessee Williams, William Inge, speculative history, a peek behind the scenes, and and a raucously good time.

Don't see it if need your history plays to be 100% historically accurate. You hate gay-themed plays and raunchy humor. You're only into musicals.

Also Gorgeous production, gorgeous dialogue, gorgeous actors, all in a very... Read more Read less

Riveting, Dizzying, Great acting, Clever, Absorbing

See it if you like portrayals of literary geniuses, spouting clever and thought-provoking lines, performed by gifted actors. Also, really nice set

Don't see it if you had a distaste for homosexual themes, "artistic license" taken with historical characters or the occasional vulgarity.

Raunchy, Masterful, Entertaining, Edgy, Great acting

See it if you are curious about the complex Tennessee Williams- William Inge relationship

Don't see it if you are uncomfortable with homosexuality and foul language .

Also Ignore the NY Times and theater snobs. This play was really good. Mr V... Read more Read less

Clever, Funny, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if You like Tennessee Williams and want to see one of the best acting performances of the year in Juan Francisco Villa's take on Tennessee

Don't see it if You dislike gay themes or have an aversion to two character plays.

Funny, Absorbing, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting

See it if you want to experience the sexual energy, passionate desires, and creative tensions of two gay writers, Tennessee Williams and William Inge.

Don't see it if you don't want to be swept up in lyrical language, dramatic actions, and sensual tensions of two great gay writers early in their careers.

Entertaining, Clever, Absorbing

See it if If you're a Tennessee Williams fan

Don't see it if You're not

Quirky, Great staging, Clever, Absorbing

See it if see more

Don't see it if see more

Also The set, The set, The set.......... Read more Read less

Great staging, Intelligent, Hilarious

See it if you're a fan of the memory plays of Tennessee Williams. Hilarious & heartbreaking, it's a brilliantly staged affair that will transport you.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy works of fiction that speculate on the private lives of public figures. Don't watch if you're averse to gay relatonships.

Clever, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if A small cast, character study piece is of interest and fine acting is appreciated.

Don't see it if Intimate gay action is uncomfortable. And if you are looking for a more story driven play.

Resonant, Intelligent, Great staging, Great acting, Ambitious

See it if A story abt 2 of American theatre's great playwrights interest you, you're ok w/comedic drama, & want to be absorbed in a play for two hours

Don't see it if you don't like new plays, don't want to hear about T Williams and W Inge, don't like fictional tales abt real people, or are rude & mean.

Riveting, Great staging, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you want to enjoy a refreshing take on the early careers of Williams and Inge, filled with the challenges they face and how they react.

Don't see it if you are not ready to be entertained with non-stop laughter and relationship challenges of the 1940's with direct talk to the audience candor

Great acting, Funny, Entertaining

See it if You are interested in Williams and Inge and in a fast paced, funny and moving imagining of their meeting and influence on each other.

Don't see it if You don't like shows about the theater or shows that are candid about sexuality.

Great staging, Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if Want to see a well done show, funny, great set and acting.

Don't see it if If you are uncomfortable with men kissing or showing affection on stage

Must see, Masterful, Great staging, Great acting, Delightful

See it if You like wordy play by two amazing writers’s fictional meeting.Amazing actors (both were equally good), great story line. It was provocative

Don't see it if You do not like gay theme plays, or nudity.

Also Amazing small theatre in a great location.

Entertaining, Hilarious, Quirky, Great writing, Clever

See it if you love Williams. The writing echos his voice; the character is a hilarious version of how one might imagine him. Lampshade decorated set!

Don't see it if you hate Tennessee Williams. If you don't know his work the play will not be as much fun as it is if you do.

Great staging, Great acting, Funny, Clever

See it if you want to laugh at some fantastic writing. Villa and Isaac are fantastic! And the manuscript towers are neat.

Don't see it if gay themes turn you off. Otherwise, make sure to go.

Refreshing, Still thinking about it, Clever, Intriguing

See it if you admire Williams, Inge or both. Also, the portrayal of Williams was virtually flawless to my eyes, capturing his seductive nature.

Don't see it if If you don't care about these two men, or don't want to see homosexual seduction on stage, albeit skillfully directed and acted.

Absorbing, Great writing, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if Imagine a chase between Tom and Jerry, who are both incredibly intelligent and insightful, while maitaining a sexual tension

Don't see it if Excellent script that can feel a little too wordy and preachy about how to lead a life

Also Loved how engaging the conversation was between these two poets, which... Read more Read less

Funny, Quirky, Great acting, Entertaining, Clever

See it if You enjoy original concept/work. Probably helps to know the work of Williams and Inge, but certainly not required.

Don't see it if oh, just go!

Great writing, Great acting, Funny, Absorbing

See it if You are interested in Williams and/or Inge. Their imagined meetings before they became famous are fascinating. The dialog is delicious.

Don't see it if You are homophobic or have no interest in either of these playwrights.