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ONE ARM OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS
Opening Night: June 9, 2011
Synopsis: Based on Tennessee Williams' unproduced screenplay of his own classic short story, this new adaptation from pioneering theatrical auteur Moisés Kaufman (The Laramie Project, I Am My Own Wife, 33 Variations) follows Ollie, a young boxing champ who loses his arm and turns to hustling to survive. One Arm is a co-production with The New Group and Tectonic Theater Project.
NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW:
"Two decades before Joe Buck peddled his flesh in Times Square — as the dim, hunky hero of the 1965 James Leo Herlihy novel (and 1969 movie) “Midnight Cowboy” — Ollie Olsen was feeling the pangs of alienation that come from being a male hustler of great beauty and small intellect. Conceived by Tennessee Williams, who specialized in angels in exile, Ollie first appeared in a 1944 short story. But he is only now making his New York debut, on the stage of the Acorn Theater on West 42nd Street. "
"Featuring a protagonist who has lost the ability to feel emotion, "One Arm" is an uncharacteristically cool work from the pen of Tennessee Williams. And yet it's precisely that emotional void that allows this terse drama to worm its way under your skin. Written first as a short story in 1942, Williams adapted it into a screenplay 25 years later, employing the device of an off-screen narrator over the visuals. That device, plus the large cast of characters that film allows for, makes the unproduced work a natural for Tectonic Theater Project's presentational ensemble aesthetic. Thoughtfully adapted and directed by Moisés Kaufman, this taut and fluid co-production with the New Group unsettles with a quiet intensity."
"Tennessee Williams was powerfully attracted to rough trade in both his personal life and his work, and his fascination finds an especially feverish expression in One Arm. Adapted by director Moisés Kaufman from several Williams texts—a 1942 short story and three drafts of an unproduced screenplay based on it, the earliest from 1967—the play tracks a muscular hustler named Ollie (Elder, taut and numb) through a series of flashbacks from his cell on death row. An amalgam of masculine fantasy archetypes (sailor, boxer, farm boy), the laconic Ollie has turned to gay prostitution after losing his right arm in a car accident, and this mutilation makes him even more attractive to some. (“The loss of one arm makes you look like a—piece of antique sculpture,” says a girl who takes him home in the rain.)"
"An unproduced screenplay by Tennessee Williams serves as the basis for The New Group and Tectonic Theater Project's thoroughly engaging production of One Arm, now at Theatre Row. The piece began life as a short story, first published in 1948. Williams wrote the screenplay version in 1967, and director Moisés Kaufman has utilized several different drafts of the never-made movie's script to craft his compact, yet emotionally rich adaptation. "
"Tennessee Williams wrote – and rewrote – plays and short stories practically every day of his adult life and so undiscovered or long-neglected works occasionally surface even now, 28 years after his death."
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