Fiction by Tennessee Williams
“Dragon country, the country of pain, is an uninhabitable country which is inhabited.” So Tennessee Williams expressed the theme of “endured but unendurable pain” which runs through all of these eight plays. The most recent among them, In the Bar of a Tokyo Hotel, shows an artist, worn to a nervous ruin by a breakthrough in his painting technique, abandoned and destroyed by his witch of a wife. From earlier in the Sixties we have the two “Slapstick Tragedies”: The Mutilated––a once-beautiful woman whose breast has been removed is blackmailed by her “friend”––and The Gnädiges Fräulein––a “celebrated soubrette” is reduced to battling “cocaloony birds” for discarded fish on a Florida Key. I Rise in Flame, Cried the Phoenix is based on the death of D. H. Lawrence, while I Can’t Imagine Tomorrow is a paradigm of human inability to share or communicate. Confessional presents the “regulars” of a California beachfront bar: an aging beautician celebrating her brother’s “death day,” an alcoholic doctor who botches a difficult childbirth, and two men who give us new insight into the unique sadness of the “gay” world. The Frosted Glass Coffin reveals a group of elderly people in a retirement hotel, dying off one by one in the intense zinc-white light of Miami. Two women (with skin and weight problems) look for fun at a convention in A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot.