Mr Paradise was only re-discovered, along with some other Tennessee Williams one act plays, in 2000. A young woman comes to visit Anthony Paradise, who had written a small book of poems she found propping up a table in an antique shop. She read the book and was transfixed by the poems and just had to meet the author. The play consists mainly of two monologues, mainly about writing as an art, which portray the woman's boundless, youthful enthusiasm and the author's world weariness. The play was a good introduction to the main event.
|Dr Sugar and Catherine|
Photo from the Theatre by the Lake Website
Interestingly, the play has a strong auto-biographical content, Williams had diphtheria as a child and took a year to recover, and his mother was overbearingly protective of him. His sister Rose had schizophrenia and in the 1940's had a lobotomy (which was an accepted treatment at that time) that had disastrous results and she required care in an institution for the rest of her life.
I found the play enthralling, disturbing and riveting. It was performed in the studio and we sat in the front row and so were almost part of the scene being played so close to us. I can see why it is a one act play, any break would have totally spoiled the momentum, as the story was unfolding I felt drawn into it more and more. I would definitely see another play by Tennessee Williams and highly recommend this production of Suddenly Last Summer. It is in repertoire at the Theatre by the Lake until 4th November 2015.