photo provide courtesy of Janice Allen.

From l, Tamara Braun (Woman) and Jack Heller (Tennessee Williams) in “Tennessee in the Summer,” written by Joe Besecker, directed by Sal Romeo, at The Sidewalk Studio Theatre. Photo provide courtesy of Janice Allen.

“Tennessee in the Summer” combines fine acting and production work in a sizzling examination of Tennessee Williams and his demons. Filled with thoughtful insights by writer Joe Besecker, the production reveals the tragic background of playwright Williams, a past he feared he would emulate.

Set in a lonely hotel room in 1972, the play flashbacks to important moments in Williams’ life as he contemplates how to blend his warring opposites, forgive the past, and move on. The presentation reveals how closely Williams’ characters matched his own emotionally fragile life, and how both he and his creations created fantasy worlds to protect them from past horrors.

Director Sal Romeo highlights the black humor of Williams while emotionally revealing his tragic undertones. He builds excellent pacing and timing, and draws fine work from both cast and crew.

The cast gives excellent performances, led by the expressive, heartrending performance of Jack Heller as the troubled Williams. He also possesses fine chemistry with Robert Standley, who brings emotional resonance to the role of Williams’ younger lover. Tamara Braun adds sexy sizzle as the feminine side of Williams. Louise Davis gives a sensitive reading to the fragile Rose.

Production work is also spot-on, from Richard Montes’ effective sound design, to Lacey Anzelc’s claustrophobic, steamy hotel room, to Paige Selene Luke’s excellent lighting design.

A powerful exploration of how emotional turmoil can both illuminate and wreck lives, “Tennessee in the Summer” features strong acting and vision. The play also contains adult situations and language.

Sal Romeo ETC and SST Productions present “Tennessee in the Summer” Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm through May 20 at the Sidewalk Studio Theatre located at 4150 Riverside Dr. in Burbank. Tickets cost $20, and can be purchased by visiting www.brownpapertickets.com or calling 800/838-3006. For further information, call 818/558-5702 or visit www.sidewalkstudiotheatre.info.

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