Suzanne Ruta
April 01, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Tennessee Williams: Everyone Else Is an Audience

Current Status
In Season
Ronald Hayman

We gave it a B-

Define happiness, someone once asked Tennessee Williams. ”Insensitivity, I guess,” he answered. No one could accuse Williams of either. The playwright’s father was a brutal alcoholic who may have abused his daughter Rose. His mother was a domineering Southern matron who consented to have the mentally unhinged Rose lobotomized. This fast-paced bio analyzes how Williams’ obsessive guilt over Rose’s fate and his own homosexuality blossomed into great theater. And into great film roles for Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Liz Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Carroll Baker, as the generous selection of movie stills reminds us. What’s missing in Tennessee Williams: Everyone ELSE is an Audience, is cultural context-why Williams’ lush pessimism was so liberating in the clamped-down ’50s and so passe by the late ’60s, when he went into a nonstop decline. Also missing is a sense of Williams’ humorous devotion to friends. B-

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