Yesterday Wilhelm and I met Isabella at the Civic Theater where we saw “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” What a fine production! I’m always surprised at the professional performances they put on at the Civic. The star of yesterday’s show was Chasity Kohlman, whose Maggie the Cat almost equals that of Elizabeth Taylor.
The play is one of my favorites, even in the watered down 1958 movie version (which I have just added to my Netflix queue, at # 140.) “Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie” are equally gripping. Tennessee Williams is undoubtedly one of our great American playwrights.
His life was complex: drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, and fear of madness, which ran in his family. (His sister had a lobotomy.) You can read about all this in THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS: The Life of Tennessee Williams (1985), by Donald Spoto. More recently Lyle Leverich has published the first of a projected two-volume biography, TOM: The Unknown Tennessee Williams (1995.)
There is also a book by Williams’ brother, Dakin, called TENNESSEE WILLIAMS: An Intimate Biography (1983), which has been accused by some of a having a powerful aroma of mendacity. I don’t know the book so I can’t say.