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Suddenly Last Summer

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  4,345 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Kerr, in the NY Herald-Tribune, describes: "This, says Mr. Williams through the most sympathetic voice among his characters, 'is a true story about the time and the world we live in.' He has made it seem true-or at least curiously and suspensefully possible-by the extraordinary skill with which he has wrung detail after detail out of a young woman who has lived with horror ...more
Paperback, Acting Edition, 45 pages
Published December 1st 1990 by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. (first published February 1st 12)
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A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee WilliamsThe Crucible by Arthur MillerDeath of a Salesman by Arthur MillerThe Glass Menagerie by Tennessee WilliamsWho's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
Best American Plays
40th out of 181 books — 257 voters
Twelfth Night by William ShakespeareThe Last Battle by C.S. LewisThe First Four Years by Laura Ingalls WilderThe Last Unicorn by Peter S. BeagleThe Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
A Position of One's Own: First, Second... Last
18th out of 357 books — 53 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Connie
This one act play is set at Mrs Venable's house where her deceased son, Sebastian, had a jungle-garden, including carnivorous plants. Sounds of savage beasts and birds add to the mood. Mrs Venable is trying to discredit the testimony of Catherine, her niece, about her last day with Sebastian. She is trying to persuade a doctor to perform a lobotomy on her niece so Catherine will never be able to speak about the events to Mrs Venable's high society friends in New Orleans. After the doctor gives C ...more
Duffy Pratt
Williams brings the monsters out in full regalia. The chef de monstre is Violet. She's the grand dame of a New Orleans family. She had an oddly close relationship to her son, Sebastian, who was murdered in Europe the last summer. Now, she wants to cover up the entire murder and to do this she wants to give her niece a lobotomy. This might get her niece to stop telling the truth of what happened. Even if it doesn't stop her from talking, it will probably stop anyone from listening to her or takin ...more
matthew
Oct 29, 2007 matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: the strong-stomached
my ex keeps asking me what i love about this play, and i can never articulate it (so don't get your hopes up, here). perhaps it's its concern with involuntary, and incorrect, institutionalisation, or its brutal imagery; perhaps it's its meditations upon what it is to be a poet. whatever it may be, the work stirs many an emotion in me, corny as it sounds.
Jim
Tennessee Williams is one American author whose work I feel we do not sufficiently appreciate. Perhaps that is because the theater in general is fading away -- an art form that, like many others, has become just ... too ... expensive. Also, even in our times, there is still lurks a stigma attached to being gay.

Suddenly Last Summer is a blinding metaphor about the absent main character -- Sebastian Venable -- who in some Latin American beach city crossed an invisible line and paid for it with hi
...more
Irene McHugh
Originally, I read this play in high school. I went through the motions of pretending that I was shocked by the ending. Really, I was just tired of reading selection after selection from that particular English teacher. I know I wasn't really paying attention to the words, but some of them must have stuck...not in my throat.

I watched the movie Playing by Heart and I understood the reference to this play, but I couldn't recall specific plot details, and it really bugged me. However, I didn't re-
...more
Craig
Apr 10, 2011 Craig rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: plays
The plight of the poet, cruelly crushed by the harsh truth of a world or God too cruel for fancy or eccentricity, is the central tale here. While Sebastian searches for God at the four corners of the globe, provincial life in New Orleans goes on: balls and masquerades, dinners, daiquiris at 5...and none of it enough to inspire passion in Sebastian. It is only the cruelty of the world, and the cruelty of his mother and Cathy in procuring for him, that inspire his annual poems. With his own health ...more
Stuart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
David Morris Parson
A short, yet powerful play, where the star is Tennessee Williams. Any writer looking for a terrific example of suspense needs to look no further than this macabre story. A textbook case for how to write tension, mystery, and horror.
Kris
4 STARS

"Anne Meacham, as a girl who has been the sole witness to her cousin's unbelievably shocking death, is brought into a 'planned jungle' of a New Orleans garden to confront a family that is intensely interested in having her deny the lurid tale she has told. The post-dilettante's mother is, indeed, so ruthlessly eager to suppress the facts that she had the girl incarcerated in a mental institution and she is perfectly willing, once she finishes her ritualistic five o'clock frozen daiquiri,
...more
Kfray
This play scared the shit out of me....and I loved every second of it
Rafael
Holy child eating mother of homo!
Remus
I thoroughly loved it but I don't know how I can adequately express why I do. Williams' again explores the theme of identity and suppressing one's identity, along with electric family drama. The idea of subjugation is repeatedly and tangibly brought forth by the constant coercion the protagonist is under to retract her story (and further suppressing Sebastien's identity -- a twofold denial of sexuality). I thought the way he wrote Cathy was brilliant and sympathetic.
Melanti
Pretty risque considering this was published/performed back in the 1950s!

(view spoiler)
...more
Agnes Muscoreil
I'm amazed that I have never read this story before or seen the play and/or movie! Classic Tennessee Williams story, an overbearing mother willing to have a lobotomy performed on the young woman who was the only witness to her beloved son's gruesome death while abroad.
Mike Jensen
I confess that I did not find this play nearly as impressive in a later reading, but in 1999 it knocked me over. Williams's tale of power, passion, fragility, and controlling the "truth," seemed very powerful and disturbing on this reading, and I rate it accordingly.
Meredith
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Roland
What an insane play. An older woman wants to lobotomize a relative for telling the disgusting truth about the death of her pervert son. I really liked this play, and the lurid side of Williams really shines here.
David
No. That's what I say when I read this. No. This story is too much for me--it has the typical Tennessee Williams psychological tension, and in his other works I can handle it. But this one drives too far, too deep, and to me, he tries too hard. It's Williams's effort to be dark that thwarts the effectiveness of this play, I think. In his other plays, there are moments of relief that really do relieve me. But, in this one, I feel a constant barrage with no relief. There are some attempts at relie ...more
علی
ناگهان تابستان گذشته (1958)، مانند برخی دیگر از تک پرده ای های ویلیامز، قصه ای ست پر گره و روان شناختی، چیزی شبیه به چارچوب "باغ وحش شیشه ای" با موضوعی متفاوت. نمایش نامه عمدتن از دو تک گویی بلند تشکیل شده؛ کاترین پس از مرگ مرموز پسرعمویش سباستین در یک سفر اروپایی، پریشان بنظر می رسد. ویولت مادر سباستین که سعی دارد هم جنس گرایی پسرش را در ابهام مرگ او بپیچاند، کاترین را به ضد و نقیض گویی در مورد سباستین و مرگ او متهم می کند، و به گونه ای تلاش دارد او را در مرگ پسرش مقصر قلمداد کند. کاترین که زیر ...more
Niki
Aug 25, 2009 Niki rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Niki by: Playing By Heart movie
Cannibals ate my cousin!!!!!

My reason for reading this play was because I saw the movie Playing By Heart, where Angelina Jolie's character is doing a monologue from this play. The monologue and her description was weird enough that I rented the old movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. I loved that so I read the play. I loved the play too.

I love the drama and the characters and since I'd watched the old movie I had Taylor and Hepburns voices in my head while reading. It was dark an
...more
J.M. Slowik
Dec 04, 2012 J.M. Slowik rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Drama students
Shelves: drama
Macabre-- which I like. The plot (an 'insane' niece, Catharine is compelled to tell her aunt Violet the true story of her son Sebastian's death) meanders for a while, though, and you get the sense early on that you'll have to wait for the end of the play to arrive with its Grand Revelation. It's not a long wait, but it still makes everything in the middle feel like filler. Yet I'd like to see this one staged; it's a good example of how set design and scenery can function and relate to a play's t ...more
Robin Conley
I don't read a lot of plays these days, though I have been reading more screenplays. I read this one because I am helping a friend with her English homework, but I would have read it even if I hadn't been helping her. I enjoy Tennessee Williams' work, and this play was no different. It definitely had a lot of tension as I was waiting to see how it ended and what the Doctor decided, and I loved the dialogue. It had a great forward flow to it, and it kept you wondering about the truth or what woul ...more
Diana
I read the book after seeing the movie years ago. The writing and the story is brilliant and horrifying. This is a book whose images stay with you forever.
Allison
This is classic Tennessee Williams. IT is amazing traditional southern lit. There are many famous monologues from this play.
Bunnyhugger1
This is just the second Tennessee Williams play that I've read and I'm thinking that histrionic women may be a recurring theme of his. I began by reading aloud trying to get the feel of the play - but there were just too many explanation points! And the breathlessness! And dizziness! "Suddenly Last Summer" is a fairly slight one act play but I can imagine how shocking the subject matter (no spoilers here) must have seemed when it was first performed in 1958 (and apparently the movie that eventua ...more
Annie Garvey
Nothing really happens . . . no tension. Does Cathy go back to St. Mary's or get her lobotomy? Why does George's character change at the end? I'm sure he's heard Cathy's story before. Some good quotes though:

"Most people's lives -- what are they but trails of debris, each day more debris, most debris, long, long trails of debris with nothing to clean it all up but, finally death . . ." [This quote sort of sums up Tennessee William's life.]

"We're all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying
...more
Lindsay
Haunting. I think about it from time to time. It's probably about time for another go.
Jonathan
This Williams play features a more interesting premise (by which I mean a nondomestic setting): Sebastian has mysteriously died while in Europe with his cousin Catharine. Her story does not sit well with Violet, Sebastian's mother, and she sets out to get Catharine lobotomized. The play is a very interesting mixture of psychological study and mythological allusion and is one of those works that's actually better as a movie. I recommend this and its film version (with Elizabeth Taylor and Kathari ...more
Meghan
There's something so deliciously (that is a terrible pun in light of this play) decadently corrupt about Tennessee Williams. I'd only read/seen Streetcar Named Desire before this, and while I can see a few parallels, in the dark, gruesome stories hidden by madness, the exploitation, there's always so much more, lurking just between the surface. Normally I'm much more apt to see a play than read it -- it's written to be performed, after all -- but Williams' descriptions of the sets are so lavish, ...more
Kaethe
Perhaps melodramatic, but gripping when well portrayed.
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Thomas Lanier Williams III, better known by the nickname Tennessee Williams, was a major American playwright of the twentieth century who received many of the top theatrical awards for his work. He moved to New Orleans in 1939 and changed his name to "Tennessee," the state of his father's birth. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ...more
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A Streetcar Named Desire The Glass Menagerie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof The Night of the Iguana (Acting Edition) Summer and Smoke

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“The Venus flytrap, a devouring organism, aptly named for the goddess of love.” 30 likes
“Somebody said once or wrote, once: 'We're all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God's name with the wrong alphabet blocks!” 18 likes
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