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Volume 26, Number 2 — February 2019

Barter's Adjoining Trances Explores Two Tortured, Successful Lives

<em>Adjoining Trances</em> focuses on one summer spent together by writers Tennessee Williams (Michael Poisson) and Carson McCullers (Amy Baldwin)
Adjoining Trances focuses on one summer spent together by writers Tennessee Williams (Michael Poisson) and Carson McCullers (Amy Baldwin)

Theatre Review by Robert McKinney


*** Published: March 5, 2009 in the Bristol (Va.) Herald Courier. ***

Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers epitomized what many people think "serious" writers have to be: troubled, conflicted, psychotic, devil-haunted, alcoholic, addicted, and roaring hell-bound for an early grave.

Williams was promiscuously and openly gay and McCullers, although married twice to the same man, swung any way and with anybody she found interesting. Both suffered bouts of mental illnesses including severe depressions. McCullers survived numerous strokes beginning at age 13, one of which left her partially paralyzed, tried to commit suicide numerous times, and finally died of a brain hemorrhage at age 50. Williams lived into his early 70s, but crashed both mentally and physically in his late 50s, and lived out his life gurgitating and regurgitating one failure after another.

Yet, as alike yes, alike as these two ephemerals were, they somehow became friends and, in 1946, rented a beach cottage at Nantucket where, at arguably the height of their creative powers, they wrote, argued, drank, discussed their creative muses and, in a strange and nonsexual way, became lovers.

Adjoining Trances, now at Barter Theatre's Stage II in Abingdon, Va. only through March 21, is an imagination of what their summer may have been like, penned by Randy Buck and well-acted by Michael Poisson and Amy Baldwin with direction by Evalyn Baron.

This is a rather intense play that takes place in a too-long one-act format, but if one is the least interested in either of the two characters or the creative process in general, you will find it mesmerizing.

It is not a play for the casual visitor, however, and, although there is little to no profanity, its very dominant sub-theme of homosexuality and promiscuity may be a turn-off for some others will, of course, find it intriguing.

I'm not sure Adjoining Trances will cause you to think very much beyond the theater doors, but it offers an intriguing peek behind others doors that normally stay thoroughly locked to keep in or keep out the demons of worlds accepted but not understood.

The play runs through March 21. For reservations: (276) 628-3991 or

A! ExtraTopics: Theatre