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Vieux Carre Paperback – October 2, 2000
Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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About the Author
Robert Bray is an author, editor, and Tennessee Williams scholar.
Top Customer Reviews
It is somewhat narrated by "the writer" as he interacts with his land lord Mrs. Wire, her maid, and several other tenants. There's a sexually charged couple - Tye and Jane - and another older couple of female crones who think they are high society but are actually extremely poor. There's also a gay artist suffering from Tuberculosis who has a brief sexual encounter with the writer, the only homosexual scene Williams ever wrote for onstage.
Obviously being a script, much is left up to interpretation. This play isn't as full as Glass Menagerie, but it still has its moments to shine. I'd still love to see this live on stage some day, but those curious readers who don't know much about the "real life" events of Williams life that inspired this work might find themselves bored or lost.
Williams had tremendous success in the 1940s and 1950s, but he struggled to find a commercial voice in the 1960s and 1970s. VIEUX CARRE is in some ways typical of his output at this time: long on atmosphere and character, short on actual plot, and more interested in tone than tangibles. Although a nameless writer is technically the central character, the play is really an ensemble piece, a collage of the desperate. Mr. Nightingale is a sketch artist who refuses to believe he is dying of tuberculosis; the sisters Mary Maude and Carrie are so poor they are literally starving to death and trying to get by scraping through trashcans on the street; Jane is a society girl on the run from a terminal medical condition. All of them are dominated by the landlady, Mrs. Wire, a half-crazy, half-sly woman who bends the tenants to her will with constant threats of eviction.
Williams was noted for the often sordid nature of his work, and it would be hard to imagine characters and situations more sordid than those presented here. The circumstances are nasty, hard, and cruel; the characters are ineffectual, desperate, and (as Mrs. Wire, the landlady, points out) "dying of loneliness." It is a place where the only hope one can have is for subsistence survival. It is not difficult to see why the play was unsuccessful; it is very dark, very impressionistic, and is more a series of vignettes than it is a seamless whole. Nonetheless, this is very likely the best of William's later plays. Strongly recommended.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
This play was supposedly, possibly a follow-up (not necessarily a sequel) to whatever happened to Tom when he left St. Louis in "The Glass Menagerie," but where "Menagerie" shines, this one is an "eh."
Even though this was published late in Tennessee Williams' life, and the time period suggests that it does follow that of "Menagerie," it was actually initially drafted before "Menagerie," in 1939. Indeed, the playwriting seemed like a less mature TW.
The plot and characterization was too disparate and choppy; it didn't hold together well. The characters consisted of a bunch of poor, down on their luck and ill people - mentally as well as physically - desolate, disturbed, depressed, dysfunctional, dying. Many good plays have such a menagerie; but in this case, it was not fun to watch because there wasn't enough there for me to become invested in their circumstances or fate. Not even it's reported claim could maintain my interest throughout - reportedly, this was TW's first unambiguous gay liaison on stage (I'm not sure, but I seem to recall at least one of his many previous short plays that had such a liaison).
It was interesting how this seemed to be based on a snapshot in time of TW's life, his few months in New Orleans, before he became famous with "Menagerie," just after he adopted his nom de plume in order to enter a NYC play contest but avoid being discovered that he was over the age limit. I was in fact intrigued how the characters in this play were inspired by his actual rooming house mates, and that they laid the foundation for similar characters in later plays, from Stanley Kowalski to TW himself in many other plays, most directly Tom in "Menagerie.Read more ›
The play consists of two parts and twelve scenes. Although it is intimate in tone, it requires a cast consisting of five men and five women. The play is autobiographical. Williams revisits has days between winter 1938 and spring 1939 as a young and poor writer in a shabby rooming house in New Orleans' French Quarter. Williams gives the specific address: 722 Toulouse Street, but the portrayal is meant to be universal. Williams writes, "In the barrenness there should be a poetic invocation of all the cheap rooming houses of the world." The play moves between the particulars of Williams' life as a young man of 28 and broader themes.
The primary character is Williams himself but he is called simply and more suggestively "Writer". He speaks directly to the audience as a narrator, on occasion, as well as being a participant in the play. The remaining characters in the play are tormented, each in their own way, as is the Writer. They include, the delusional, witchlike, and greedy landlady, a figure who symbolizes rooming house landladies everywhere, and her longsuffering aged servant Nursie,, an African American woman who suggests she would rather be a bag lady than to continue working in the rooming house. Besides the Writer, the other boarders in the house include Nightingale, a painter suffering from tuberculosis with whom Writer has his first, and unhappy, homosexual experience. Other boarders are two elderly and impoverished spinsters, and Jane and Tye.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loses a star for diluting its focus and leaning a little heavily on the episodic, but this is one of Williams' finest character-driven pieces from his late period. Read morePublished 15 months ago by A Critic
A really wonderful play. It can be seen as a sequel to the Glass Menagerie in sorts, and I personally think it is just as good. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Fantod