Tennessee Williams

A London Summer with Huntley Dent

Beyond the Horizon, by Eugene O’Neill at the National Theatre

Hard scrabble. America’s two greatest playwrights, Eugene O’Neill and Tennessee Williams, both met horrible ends that mirrored their world views. O’Neill, the tragic fatalist, was imprisoned by Parkinson’s disease, struggling to finish his last masterpiece in a crabbed, undecipherable hand. Williams, the perfumed fantasist of flesh, waned in a haze of drugs and alcohol (he died, with pathetic ignominy, by choking on the cap to a medicine bottle). They shared the same dread of life‘s inexorable cruelty. Williams was perhaps the more coyly sadistic artist. He lets his characters lull themselves in a warm bath of delusion until it’s time to destroy them. O’Neill is more cold-eyed and frank. In the current revival of his early success, Beyond the Horizon, magnificently brought to life on the Cottesloe stage of the National Theatre, the three main characters descend into bitter disillusionment while watching every inch of their slide. They grow to have some pity for each other but none for themselves.
A London Summer with Huntley Dent

The Late Middle Classes at Donmar Warehouse

Secrets and lies. Simon Gray had a late-career flop in 1999 with The Late Middle Classes, a comic drama which closed out of town before reaching the West End. It’s not hard to see why. Delicate musings about pedophilia don’t mix well with japery at the post-war middle class and its lawn-tennis-with-drinks-at-five airs. Every character is ready to explode with repressed impulses that are either nasty, immoral, or illegal. The resulting brew sits uneasily between art and entertainment. What audience, exactly, was it intended to find?
A London Summer with Huntley Dent

Tennessee Williams’ Spring Storm at the National Theatre

Not out or proud. In his mid-twenties Tennessee Williams went to a playwriting workshop in Iowa and produced a nearly three-hour-long drama that was caustically received by his tutor and fellow students. Chagrined, he consigned it to the bottom drawer while mining many of its motifs for his acknowledged masterpieces, The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. Nothing more was heard of Spring Storm (1937) until twenty years after Williams’s piteous accidental death in 1983. Salvaged from his archived papers, the play was given a reading in New York and a couple of regional stagings, to no great acclaim. Critics called it intriguing juvenilia.
New York Arts in Edinburgh

The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams at the The Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

From time to time, the American expat, no matter how unpatriotic his sentiments may be, develops a certain homesickness for his motherland. This regret may take on a gluttonous form, causing a longing for hamburgers, fried chicken, hot dogs or “freedom fries.” Being rather put off by the thought of an heart attack, I decided to feed my cravings instead by attending Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh, directed by Jemima Levick.
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