Tennessee Williams’ Orpheus Descending is a uniquely imaginative mix of styles. It is steamy and lyrical, a love story and a tragedy, blending realism, expressionism and poetry, and tells the story of the passion of two outcasts—Lady Torrance, a storekeeper’s wife and daughter of a murdered Sicilian bootlegger and Val, a wandering guitar player—and their doomed attempt to escape from a Southern Hell. Set in a dry-goods store in the 1950s deep South, the play’s toxic brew of racist violence, bigotry, misogyny, provincialism and sexual passion evokes an American past that unfortunately is not the past and that seethes with hatred, savagery and longing for liberation. Christopher Abbott will play Val and Maggie Siff, Lady Torrance.
Frank Rich, in his 1989 New York Times review of Orpheus Descending, wrote that the play was ”a pivotal chapter in the author’s canon, reverberating throughout his career.” Erica Schmidt, who adapted and directed Shakespeare’s Macbeth for seven schoolgirls entitled Mac Beth (“raucously exuberant,” New York Times Critics Pick), stages, in her Theatre for a New Audience debut, this seldom-seen Williams masterpiece.
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