‘I’m not a good traveller,” says the Tony-winning, New York playwright Richard Greenberg, on the line from his Manhattan apartment. “I’m talking to you from a swivel chair which makes me feel kind of global,” he adds self-mockingly.
With Eugene O’Neill’s peculiar Strange Interlude at the National, this revival of Tennessee Williams’s rarely staged late play is the second utterly involving offering in London by a great pillar of American drama.
The first of two plays written by the novelist and essayist James Baldwin — revived here by director Rufus Norris in a version gorgeously saturated with gospel music — was penned in the knowledge that religion was a refuge for his fellow African Americans. For them, opportunities to be anything other than an unskilled labourer were practically non-existent.
The conversation based on a misunderstanding is a well-used comedy device. You know the kind of thing, one person is talking about their dog while the other thinks he is talking about his wife. The genius of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1967 West End hit (his first) was that he managed to sustain this kind of gag for almost an entire play.