REVIEW: This Was Sebastian’s Garden: Suddenly Last Summer via BBC (for Parterre Box)

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Dame Maggie Smith as Violet Venable in Suddenly Last Summer.

Cameron Kelsall: Another day, another play—on video, at least. Coincidentally, the next work in our rotation once again has us considering a BBC production, directed by Richard Eyre, of a non-native playwright. In this case, it’s Tennessee WilliamsSuddenly Last Summer, with Dame Maggie Smith, Natasha Richardsonand Rob Lowe leading the cast. Among the Williams canon, I find this slim but effective one-act particularly hard to do just right—the balance between lyricism, melodrama and grand guignol is often on a razor’s edge—and for the most part, the Brits triumph.

David Fox: Cameron, as you know so well, I’m a rabid Williams fan; I’ll defend even the later works. But for sure, SLS requires an explanation. I wrote this about it 20 years ago, and it still captures my feelings: “As with so much of Williams, there are flashes of poetic insight that astonish us. On this level, SLS extends our understanding of his earlier (and better) plays. It’s a world of weak, self-denying homosexual men and the women they turn to for salvation (who, in turn, become monsters of sexuality), and of failing artists and predatory family members desperate to escape the truth. It’s not pretty, this compendium of images, but it’s soul-piercingly vivid.”…

Read the full review at Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, PARTERRE BOX, Theater

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