Finally, Some Out-of-the-Closet Tennessee Williams Characters


Tennessee Williams’ 100th birthday approacheth, which is why there’s suddenly a trio of revivals of obscure mid-to-late period Williams plays.

On the heels of the ambient Vieux Carre (1978) and the florid The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1963), I just saw Small Craft Warnings (1973), which is described as “a seldom seen study in moral squalor.”

That got me there!

It’s not the usual Williams exercise in faded Southern grandeur, as it turns out.

There’s no Blanche DuBois character, male or female.

Warnings is set in a bar in California that’s filled with lonely losers, and though it’s rather diffuse and low-stakes, there’s lots of poetry in it and some really good monologues.

It’s sort of Tennessee’s O’Neill play — though it’s very him, with its liberal use of the “c” word and its gay characters “infected with sickness and sadness.”

Yes, they’re out of the closet for a change — but still decrepit!

And director/co-star Austin Pendleton does the play justice with this small-scale but honest production. (There’s no set, unless you count the folding chairs — and there was no air, either!)

But if you only lust for the more famous Williams works, wait for Sweet Bird of Youth featuring two very big movie stars rather than depend on the kindness of strangers.

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