Theater: One Heart Breaking

One Heart Breaking "There is a passion for declivity in this world," Tennessee Williams has one of his characters say in Comino Real. The ultimate declivity is death. But the pain that accompanies this descent in Williams' plays is a sense of what is lost during the journey—honor, gentleness, tenderness, brotherhood, the ability to love, or even communicate with, another human being.

In Williams' view, life is an insensate jest in which a man is gradually divested of everything that makes life precious, except the gallantry to go on, the one rock-bottom value that Williams never...