London, West End Shows

The Night of the Iguana on the West End Stage

With seemingly no self control when it comes to bargain theatre tickets in recent weeks, I snapped up tickets to see the acclaimed play The Night of the Iguana at the Noel Coward Theatre near Leicester Square.

Starring Hollywood actor Clive Owen alongside Lia Williams and Anna Gunn, the play is directed by James McDonald and based on Tennessee Williams’ short story from 1948. First staged in 1959, it was developed into a number of stage productions, the first of which premiered on Broadway in 1961, even starring Oscar winning actress Bette Davis, for several months. There have been two movie adaptations of the text, one an Oscar winning film from 1964 starring Richard Burton and Ava Gardener, the second a somewhat lesser known version; an object of Balkan cinema in the early 2000’s.

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The scene is set on a ramshackle hotel balcony, high above the Mexican rainforest, which one of the characters describes as the back door to the United States and the front door to Mexico. The year is 1940 and Larry Shannon, a priest turned tourist guide, portrayed by Clive Owen, collides with a family of Nazis, an artist and her elderly grandfather and the hotel owner who is evidently also a grieving widow. The combinations of jarring personalities results in a battle between captivity versus freedom and the arts versus religion among a number of other issues, all the while intensified by a raging tropical storm.

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Our seats were at the back of the royal circle and our view was fantastic

Without getting too much into the realms of an English Literature student discussing the subjects within the play, there are a variety of themes present nonetheless. One of the most prominent being sexual desire and the need for and consequences of the act, particularly for the reverend and his lust for younger ladies. The widow, Maxine Faulk also demonstrates sexual openmindedness throughout the story, throwing herself at Mr Shannon and divulging that she has had relations with a number of her hotel employees over the years. The characters of Miss Fellowes and Hannah Jelkes serve as the complete antithesis of Maxine and Larry, berating others for their behaviour and practicing a life of chaste. Loneliness, mental health and confinement are other themes explored throughout the play.

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The elephant, or rather iguana, in the room is of course the relevance of the large lizard throughout the play. An iguana is captured by the employees in the hotel and chained up, representing the struggle for freedom which can be applied to all of the character in some way, as the story unravels. The later release of the lizard can undoubtedly be interpreted in a number of ways, none of which I will get into now, at the risk of sounding like a college essay.

Overall, I was quite impressed by the play, although the running time of the show was a little long, at around three hours, including an interval. A refreshing break from the musicals I have a tendency to book, it has inspired me to see more plays on the stage in London, with my next foray being to the rather sombre Equus.

The Night of the Iguana is currently running until 28th September and tickets are available through various platforms including online, at the box office and in various theatre apps.

Do you like seeing plays on the stage? Have you seen or read this one? Does it sound like something you would like? Let me know in the comments below. 

25 thoughts on “The Night of the Iguana on the West End Stage”

  1. Ooh, I love the set up for the stage! It looks so real.

    I recently saw my first live play and loved it! Seeing more is something I would love to do; it beats watching a film and I always think of how much fun the actors must be having. I like more light plays, and the one I saw was hysterical, but so much can be done with passionate actors.

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    1. It was great and it was super effective when they used *real rain* on the stage. It’s such a great talent to be able to carry a play the way Clive Owen did in this, it’s such a skill to captivate everyone for the whole time. I would struggle just remembering the lines to one scene! πŸ˜…

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  2. This sounds interesting! I’ve only ever read one Tennessee Williams play but really enjoyed it, so maybe I’ll have to look at more. Your view looks so good and the set looks amazing!

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    1. I was the same before I saw this and the one I read was not this one! I think I went more out of curiosity than anything else, and I’m really glad I did. The set was incredible and they even used *real rain* which I liked a lot 🀣☺️

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  3. The nearest I got to attending a stage play was to see Bette and Joan. Anita Dobson and Greta Scacchi portrayed the bitchy, fading hollywood stars. The play takes place in the shared dressing room of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. It was dynamite!

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  4. Everyone, young, old, should see more live theatre.
    It’s one of lifes best experiences to see actors bring to life something you know nothing about…And make you come away thinking…..that was excellent.
    Well done for going not enough folk make the effort πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸ€—πŸŽ­πŸŽ­πŸŽ­

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    1. The stage set up was really good πŸ‘Œ it’s a hard sort of post I think to relate to becuase there’s so many shows but I really liked writing it! I really wanted to go to more so got an app that had decent offers so I could afford it πŸ˜€ thank you for reading πŸ˜†

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    1. I think I would like to see a Shakespeare one too one day, but I feel like I need to build up to it with other plays! I have already seen Richard third which I really enjoyed so we will see! Thank you for reading πŸ˜€

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  5. I really enjoyed the show, as Clive Owen is one of my fav actors.
    I love the way you wrote about it. Such a great post, keep it up πŸ‘ŒπŸΌβ€οΈ

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  6. This sounds so interesting and the set is as well, it’s so well done! I haven’t seen a play in so long but had to analyse them for A Level English Lit and my nerdy self actually likes exploring the themes haha! We did King Lear and I would have liked to see that especially with Ian McKellen x

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    1. The set was incredible. It was the first thing everyone was commenting on when they were coming through the doors! I love exploring the themes too, it was hard to write this and not get too English Lit student. I have another play review coming up but it’s so heavy, I’m trying to make it less essay-ish! King Lear would be incredible! I went to see Richard III when I was studying it and it was really good!

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    1. I was so impressed with the staging and the view considering we picked up some bargain tickets! It was pretty long but well worth it and I’d recommend for sure. Thank you for reading πŸ™‚ x

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