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Sweet Bird of Youth


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AT: The Enemy: Time A: Tennessee Williams Pf: 1956, Coral Gables, Florida Pb: 1959 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Hotel and its garden, Gulf Coast town, 1950s C: 15m, 7fChance Wayne, a handsome but dissipated gigolo in his late twenties, has returned to his hometown with a faded movie star Alexandra del Lago, who calls herself Princess Kosmonopolis. Chance uses her to promote his failing career in the movies; the Princess, dependent on alcohol and drugs, exploits his youth for sexual oblivion. Chance was driven from the town by the local political chief ‘Boss’ Finlay, whose daughter Heavenly he seduced. On his last visit to her, Chance infected her with venereal disease, and she had to be ‘spayed like a dawg’. Finlay now intends to castrate Chance in revenge. When the Princess's latest film about the ravages of age becomes a success, she invites Chance to leave town with her. But Chance, recognizing that his only asset, youth, has now passed, decides to stay and await the punishment laid down for him.

AT: The Enemy: Time A: Tennessee Williams Pf: 1956, Coral Gables, Florida Pb: 1959 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Hotel and its garden, Gulf Coast town, 1950s C: 15m, 7f

Based on a one-act play, this disturbing essay on the effects of ageing marked the beginning of the decline in quality of Williams's playwriting. It is a very personal statement by Williams, 45 at the time of its premiere as The Enemy: Time, and almost implies that castration might ease his homosexual angst. The strongest feature is the portrayal of the faded movie star, performed by Geraldine Page at its New York premiere.

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Tennessee Williams (1911—1983) American dramatist


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