Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Tennessee Williams' "Stoned Age"

Contemplating the last chapters of Tennessee Williams' career isn't pretty. Booze- and pill-dependent, he referred to the 1960s as his "Stoned Age," and the manner of his death in 1983 (he either overdosed on Seconal, choked on a bottle cap or some combination of the two) suggests that the fog never entirely lifted. Atrocious reviews, delivered annually during his final degraded decades, surely provided little incentive for sobriety.

Looking back more than a quarter of a century later, it's easy to concentrate on the high points, recalling the playwright who took Broadway by storm with "The Glass Menagerie," "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" — a 10-year stretch that sealed his legacy if not his future happiness. "Vieux CarrĂ©," which begins Wednesday at REDCAT in a Wooster Group production, gives us an opportunity to examine whether the dark cloud of Williams' last years may in fact have a silver lining.

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