on June 19, 2000
A more suitable compilation than this will not be found. These three plays are arguably the essential core of the Williams canon, and certainly a great starting place for novices.
Sweey Bird of Youth is blessed with perhaps the finest epitaph ever in a modern drama, when the play's main character emanates Williams's legendary compassion with the concluding line, "all I ask is for the recognition of me in you, and time, the enemy, in us all." Shakespeare would have salivated.
Both the Rose Tattoo and Night of the Iguana exhibit Ibsen's impression upon Williams, as Williams incorporates brilliant metaphor's that wrap around both plays like knotted ribbons, but Williams's poetic language in each surpasses that of Ibsen by eons. Much in the vein of Ibsen's The Wild Duck or Chekov's The Seagull, Williams gives us a lesson in fate, freedom and human desire with his Iguana, tied to a post by a rope and struggling to escape, waiting to be killed as food, and he walks us through a world of intense nostalgia and heartbreak with the Rose Tattoo marking the chests of Serafina's lovers.
Even O'Neil, lauded by most as our finest American playwright, never quite matched the powerful language of the heart that saturates these three works of gritty, raw desire and nostalgia. Both of which, as Williams insists, take up plenty of space in the hearts of all.
on February 11, 2004
It's amazing how well the works of Mr. Williams have held up after all these years. Then again, when you write classics that's what they're supposed to do.
While all these plays are great, NIGHT OF THE IGUANA is by far his best. My favorite line: "Oh,God, can we please stop now." I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.
But the most remarkable thing about Mr. William's plays are that, while they almost always deal with the south, decay, decadence, incredible insight into the human condition, and graphic and moving looks into the human heart, they are all completely different. How much this man must have lived to have produced this varied and complex a body of work.
If you're a fan of Southern literature, and especially Tennessee Williams, please check out some other "finds:" OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS by Capote, BARK OF THE DOGWOOD by McCrae, and AVA'S MAN by Bragg.