The Theater: New Play, Old Play

Orpheus Descending is a rewrite by Tennessee Williams of a Williams play, Battle of Angels, that headed for Broadway in 1940 but folded in Boston. A certain sense of remodeling, of altered stairs and corridors, of trapdoors inserted and windows removed, hangs over the play. But the builder's identity, whatever the stage or the style of construction, is never in doubt. Williams writes of life in a backward, bigoted Southern town, and of a young guitar-playing itinerant who arrives there. He becomes involved with its unhappy women, and as a result with its...

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