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The only son of wealthy widow Violet Venable dies while on vacation with his cousin Catherine. What the girl saw was so horrible that she went insane; now Mrs. Venable wants Catherine lobotomized to cover up the truth.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
A Very Entertaining Performance of Rare Tennessee Williams
I had never heard of this play when I saw the DVD on the shelf. So I got it, took it home, and watched it. I found it to be delightful. Martin Sheen glows in the bloom of his youth, Lotte Lenya is a hoot, and the rest of the cast, while unknown to me, were admirable, especially Janet Margolin as Esmeralda.
The production dates back to 1966, in a B&W TV staging for NET - National Educational TV. I suppose that is the predecessor of today's PBS. It was campy and fun, with lots of cheesy sets typical of live TV shows of the day. That aspect alone gives it an ambiance that looks back to an earlier day of less than slick TV performances of more than worthy theatrical properties. Too bad such things are not particularly marketable today. Still, thanks to DVD, one can enjoy one of a kind performances like this one that would otherwise be lost.
This performance is apparently based on an early version of the play, rather than an "excised" version of the final published text. In my edition of Tennessee Williams plays, there is commentary on the fact that he reworked the material several times after its Broadway Premier before releasing the final published version. For that reason alone, this is an interesting historical document. What's more, this version, without commercials, fits neatly into the standard one hour TV time slot, and in my opinion, holds the stage quite well.
I really enjoyed the performance, and recommend it to anyone who is not put off by out of date TV production standards. If you are interested in a more "official" version of the play based on the final published text, there are always books at the library or a book store. Meanwhile, this DVD will provide you with a good visual image while you read.
Ed Flaspoehler, Dallas, TX
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