Audiences fall for Night of the Iguana

The cast of a recent performance wows viewers with intense scenes


Clare Wilkinson

The cast of Tennessee William’s Night of the Iguana took to the Johnson theatre stage for opening night Nov. 5.  Directed by Robert Mish, Night of the Iguana is a production that instills both sympathy and disdain for its main character, the Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, played by Washington and Lee senior Nick Lehotsky.NightofTheIguana

Members of the cast worked to evoke the responses in the audience that are envisioned when reading the text. The setup of the stage aided this mission. By having only two rows fully surround the 360° stage, characters were fully interactional.

“I thought it was great that [they] could compel me to feel such different responses,” said Eleni Timas, ‘17. “I liked how [they] used the whole stage and weren’t too afraid to run about or get really loud.”

In a previous interview, Lehotsky said that he anticipated that the greatest challenge prompted by the play would be wholly embodying his character as a defrocked and mentally deteriorating minister. Despite the difficulty, many members of the audience thought he met his challenge.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been to play the role of Reverend T Lawrence Shannon,” said Kendyll Coxen, ‘18.  “At the end when Reverend Shannon had a break down, I found Nick’s acting to be very convincing and I was captivated by the performance…I did not feel as if he was trying to act like Reverend Shannon, but rather that he was Reverend Shannon.”

Elaina Prillaman, ‘17, thought the magic of both the Shannon character and the play itself was really in the details.

“The way he throws himself into the character is what convinced me, especially during the scene in which he is tied up, you can tell his mind isn’t on anything else. His volume, tone, and body language convey his mental agony,” she said. “The play would have been drastically different if Nick had not made sure to nail down the nuances of his character in the physical and emotional senses.”

Dana Gary, ‘18, agreed about the careful portrayal by Lehotsky.

“I thought Nick did a fantastic job showing the gradual deterioration of the Reverend’s sanity,” she said.  “Every time a part of his character’s backstory was revealed, it only confirmed his acting choices up to that point. You got a sense that he had control over the character’s development, that he had been acting with the frazzled Reverend, the one we see at the end, in mind from the very beginning.”

This play – as with all the plays put on by the university – gave the audience a chance to see their peers in a new light. Rare is the opportunity to watch up close the slow deterioration of a character. For many, it was the novelty of this that really stole the show.

“I’ve known Nick almost three years now, and he’s always a professional, really on top of his game, so it fascinated me to watch him portray a man at the end of his rope,” Timothy Fisher, ‘15, said. “He [and the others] really sold me.”