8/5/2013 6:03 PM
For his fans, reading any work by Tennessee Williams is time well spent. The anthology The Magic Tower contains fifteen short plays. Most fascinatingly, his early work includes prototypes of his later, better known plays.
The author notes that The Pretty Trap gets 'a lighter treatment and a different ending,' than its successor, The Glass Menagerie. Perhaps the most striking of the precursors comes in the form of Interior: Panic, which skews Streetcar even more to Blanche's perspective. The paranoid heroine projects the decay of her sanity outward as a series of aural and visual hallucinations. Like Trap, Williams imbues Interior: Panic with the raw lyricism of Streetcar, but spins a positive ending. The thinnest, but still notable, link arises in The Case of the Crushed Petunias. The sweet allegory finds an outlandish young man in a woman's store, but the similarities to Orpheus Descending end there. Its contains my favorite Williams quote, which reappears in Orpheus: " . . . dead people give the best advice . . . just one word: live!"
This volume lets the reader peek at a much-loved playwright's process, as one that allowed for time and space to write and rewrite the defining statements of his life.