Like any good theater director, Harry McEnerny likes to try new and different things and bring variety to his programs.So, while Orpheus Descending may not be the inventive re-imagining of a classic that Dr. Faustus was, or the pull-out all-the stops musical that Hair and Cabaret were, it certainly was no failure.
Tennessee Williams tends to like to write a lot of characters into his plays, but he only fully develops one or two of them into anything other than caricatures. The two developed characters are the leads, Lady and Val (Heather Denardo and Jimmy Lorentz.)
The play does an admirable job of illustrating the volatile relationship of these two and their battle between what society expects of them and what they, in their hearts, want. Surrounding them are faceless old women, rednecks who get beat up, and a hoard of other characters who don’t really seem to have any discernable purpose at all, other than to be so lifeless that they make the two developed characters stand out more.
The only other even partially developed characters are paraplegic redneck Jabe (Shawn Dayton) and two friends of Lady’s (Eva Zimmerman and Lauren Martin), but even those characters are only marginally more developed than the other minor characters.
But shortcomings in the script did not detour from the fact that the company did an outstanding job with what they were given, with action scenes and gunshots and comic relief. But it really could have been a two-, maybe three-character play.