After last year’s triumphant Summer and Smoke, along comes another impressive Tennessee Williams revival to take up residence in the West End.
Clive Owen makes his return to the stage as the disgraced Reverend Shannon in this slow-burning drama set at a remote and run-down hotel in Mexico in 1940.
Dressed in a crumpled white linen suit, Owen’s Shannon is a dominating presence as soon as he appears on stage, talking incessantly, full of nervous energy and verging on a breakdown as a thunder storm brews in the skies above.
The hotel is run by the recently widowed Maxine Faulk (Anna Gunn), who wants Shannon for herself, despite his predeliction for underage girls. The atmosphere becomes highly charged at the arrival of impecunious artist Hannah Jelkes (Lia Williams) and her grandfather Nonno (Julian Glover), who she describes as “the world’s oldest living and practising poet”.
Both Gunn and Williams are stunningly good in their interactions with Owen’s Shannon. The sexual tension hangs in the air like a fine mist.
At some three hours long, James Macdonald’s production lets the intricate emotional beats play out slowly, especially in the second half.
Special mention must go Rae Smith’s impressive set. The ramshackle hotel verandah is created in loving detail while above it towers a craggy rock face and arching palm trees.
The thunder storm, when it arrives, is a cracker. And, in case you were wondering, there really is an iguana.
The Night of the Iguana is at the Noel Coward Theatre until 28 September
Shannon is clearly a man with problems,