Donald, a young author, is becoming restless under the weighty love of his overbearing and manipulative mother, Mrs. Fenway. When a letter from Donald's father announces that economic necessity will require selling the family's sumer home and cancelling Donald's summer plans, Mrs. Fenway takes to the chaise longue and succumbs to the inertia of St. Louis heat. According to his mother's growing worries, Donald lacks friends, daydreams too much, and is not living up to his potential to be a strong, socially prominent young man, but Mrs. Fenway herself suffers headaches, crying, and fainting with any mention of her own circumstances. When Donald finally goes out for a swim, he becomes the hero of his own life with a decision of whether or not he ever wants to go back inside.
Part of the collection Mister Paradise and Other One Act Plays
"Demonstrates skillfully how the hysteric turns herself into an event and forces her inner life into others. Donald’s psychic space is entirely colonized by his mother’s neediness... Donald is an early snapshot of [The Glass Menagerie's] Tom, for whom home is also “a hideous trap.” He goes swimming and keeps swimming. His mother scans the horizon and can’t bear to keep looking. 'Has Donald come back to shore yet?' she asks the maid, who indicts her with a glance. 'No,'the maid says. 'He didn’t come back.' " - The New Yorker
"A slice of the playwright's own experience... Glimmers of Williams's inimitable wit percolate, as when the young man scornfully describes his hatred of fire escapes: 'Don't they think people who live in apartments need to escape from anything besides fire?'... Bears the unmistakable hallmarks of Williams's style: it is compassionate, vivid, lyrical and true." - The New York Times
- Mild Adult Themes
- Minimum Fee: $45 per performance
- Time Period: 1930s
- Duration: 30 minutes
- Setting: The living room of a summer cottage.
- Additional Features: No intermission
- Features / Contains: Period Costumes
MRS. FENWAY - a fretful middle-aged woman
ANNA - an elderly servant
Summer at the Lake was written in 1937 under the title Escape and originally produced as such by the Shakespeare Theatre Company at the Kennedy Center in April 2004 under the direction of Michael Kahn.