Thursday, September 08, 2005

Louisiana...Dramatic Inspiration

I was thumbing through Walker Percy's The Moviegoer last night and it did not take me long, (page 2, in fact,) to find a reference to a suburb created around Lake Ponchatrain.

So much of our culture is centered in Louisiana. This month, Trinity Rep presents Suddenly Last Summer, a Tennessee Williams one act that takes place in the Garden District of Louisiana. Though well known to Tennessee's fans, this powerful little play is rarely staged anymore. However, it did result in a kind of critical restoration for his reputation at the time it was produced.

Despite Mr. Williams' fears and assumptions about the response, Suddenly Last Summer was critically accepted and even praised. If you ask me, Williams seemed to be paranoid about the violent nature of the play being a turn-off to people. After all, the gruesome and unspeakable things in this Southern Gothic all take place off-stage and separated by time.

I guess the fate befalling the main figure of the play, Sebastian Venable, is a little bit of a shock though, even by today's standards. But the language and intensity in the description of that fate is pure Tennessee Williams, and the final twenty minutes, which unravel the mystery of the play, are a bit of a master class for dramatic writers.

For those people who are only familiar with the central works of the Williams canon, they may want to check out the Trinity Rep production to see a rarely staged work. For those of you who are too crunched by the gas prices of late, the movie version with Katherine Hepburn is currently playing on ON DEMAND on Comcast Cable for free. (It is a movie version, so it is not the same as seeing it on the stage. Maybe read before you see the movie.)

*Remember Trinity Rep had the most economical per play cost for a subscription this coming season.

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