Click on the headline to link to a "Wikipedia" entry for American playwright Tennessee Williams' "Orpheus Descending."
Take A Walk On The Wild Side
Orpheus Descending, The Theater of Tennessee Williams, Volume Three, New Directions Books, New York, 1955
On reading “Orpheus Descending”, Tennessee Williams’ take on the old Greek legend in modern grab I was struck by the similarity in the character of the Orpheus figure, Val ,and Nelson Algren’s Dove Linkhorn in “ A Walk On The Wild Side." Both are loners, outsiders, have checkered pasts and are ready for anything from deep romantic love to murder and mayhem. And because they are capacity of that range of emotions and reactions they are also as capable of getting burned by a complacent society that does not take kindly to those that it cannot control. Val drifts into town, gets a job at a store by the enigmatic Lady and then the wheels begin to turn and to deal out his fate. Could he have stopped and turned away? Although that is a question that drives many dramatic efforts it is not always resolvable in a play- or in life. Lady’s terminally ill husband lurks in the background with nothing to lose, once the romantic sparks start to fly between Lady and Val. I do not understand why this play was not more successful in its earlier manifestations as was pointed out in the introduction, especially as this society has created a culture that has made space, if only grudgingly, for the outsider to tempt the fates, even if only symbolically.That should have been a draw to Williams-driven theater-goers