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Suddenly Last Summer

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  6,502 ratings  ·  174 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 January 7th 1958)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  6,502 ratings  ·  174 reviews


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Ahmad Sharabiani
Suddenly Last Summer, Tennessee Williams

Suddenly Last Summer is a one-act play by Tennessee Williams.

1936, in the Garden District of New Orleans. Mrs. Venable, an elderly widow from a prominent local family, has invited a doctor to her home.

She talks nostalgically about her son Sebastian, a poet who died under mysterious circumstances in Spain the previous summer.

During the course of their conversation, she offers to make a generous donation to support the doctor’s psychiatric research if he
...more
Jean-Luke
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Suddenly, last summer, a son that is dead. Suddenly, last summer, a niece off her head. So she locks her up and throws away the key, but this summer opts for a lobotomy instead. Since her niece, it appears, just won't shut up, about her son and his all-too-shocking hookups. It hurts to lose a son, no-one can argue that, but what hurts more is to be made runner-up. ...more
Michael
Dec 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019
Lurid and sensational, Suddenly Last Summer centers on a traumatized woman’s struggle to voice truth, in the face of a society determined to silence her. Set near fall’s start in an overgrown New Orleans garden full of animalistic noises, the one-act play follows the recently institutionalized Catharine as she tries to dispel her aunt Vivian’s accusation that she’s responsible for her male cousin’s death, which occurred abroad over the summer. A doctor’s been summoned, prepared to lobotomize Cat ...more
Connie G
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jonfaith
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well god damn.

What a powerful one act play. Los Olvidados have the last laugh as playboy poet walks on the wild side. The waning witness is left with a song from the Ramones.

I loved the pacing, the creak of device and the eruptions of madness. I think a few scenes revealing the interior life of the doctor would’ve heightened matters.
robin friedman
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Suddenly Last Summer

Tennessee Williams' short play "Suddenly Last Summer" is both beautiful and lurid. The play was first presented off-Broadway in 1959 together with another short work. The play consists of one act in four scenes and is usually presented without intermission. It is best read in a single sitting to capture the drama's cumulative effect.

The play explores loneliness, the ways in which people abuse and destroy one another, and the difficulties of looking below the surface of one's
...more
Mya
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I just thought it was okay. I was confused on certain parts and was in love with others.
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: american-lit, play
Weak but manageable, entertaining enough. The setup is good, and we feel for Catherine and the plight she is in. Only it’s too predictable, although that could be a question of setting since the concept is outdated for us modern readers. It may have been innovative or original back then—to blame someone as crazy even though they may not be, just to cover up something... it’s quite the horror scenario when one thinks about it. It’s a one act play and very linear, which makes it a quick read witho ...more
Duffy Pratt
Apr 29, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: play
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 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Anthony
Jul 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
Not my favorite Tennessee Williams play, but I did enjoy the overall dark poetic nature.
Marina Kahn
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was first introduced to this play via late night television. It's a true Southern Gothic play by Tennesse Williams inspired by some real experiences in his life and that of his friends who took to enjoying and exploiting the sexual delights of Tangiers, Morocco. The adaptation of this play for the movies was done by no other than Gore Vidal and starred Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn and Montgomery Cliff and I tell you I was mesmerized by this play, it burned, it sizzled with dark melodram ...more
Irene McHugh
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, classics, plays
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
Mel Bossa
I'd seen the movie last year and it mesmerized me.
This so far is my favorite Williams play. From the very first line to the last. New Orleans. A hot tropical greenhouse garden. Strange exotic plants. Birds squawking in the background. An aging southern belle with subconscious incestuous desires for her gay son and her unwillingness to hear the truth about his violent death on a white hot day in Mexico.
A young woman interned and threatened with this new radical operation meant to cut the madness
...more
Crystal O'Leary-Davidson
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant play. complex characters. Lyrical language. Edgy. I'm excited to be cast as Violet Venable. No. She doesn't think she's a monster. She's just protecting her son. As any good mother would do. ...more
Wayward Child
Dec 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I’ve been a fan of Tennessee Williams from the first time I read a sentence written by him. His style and themes are truly unprecedented and capable of drawing you in effortlessly. Suddenly Last Summer is teeming with a sundry of different themes familiar from his other plays, but seems even darker, even more personal. The controversial subject of lobotomy is introduced, another aspect which makes me admire Williams even more. Writing about stuff close to you is difficult, yet necessary in a way ...more
Jim
Nov 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-south, plays
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
Craig
Apr 10, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: screen-or-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
Kfray
This play scared the shit out of me....and I loved every second of it
Hannah
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maybe my new favorite Williams. Short, beautiful, tragic, haunting, and shocking.
Ryan Brady
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
What a disturbing, fucked up play.

I loved every second of it.

My new favorite TW play. All of the stars.
Illiterate
If you talk of taboos, society says you are mad and crushes you. But, then, everyone devours everyone else anyway.
Matthew
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Tennessee Williams’ last play Orpheus Descending ended in an act of horrific violence. There is an act of horrific violence at the end of Suddenly Last Summer too, but this time it has already occurred before the play began, and we learn about it in flashback. This takes something of the horrifying edge of it, but not much.

A play that features incestuous love, homosexuality, cannibalism and lobotomy was heady stuff for its day, and many people were horrified by Joseph L Manckiewicz’s film versio
...more
Molly Kent
Jan 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I mean, this was mental.

One of the things you learn when you study creative writing is that every character has to have a motive, something they want in every scene. It's not so true anymore, I don't think, in this new world of literature, where we tell stories that could take place in front of our eyes. But, this play had so much motive, and it was amazing.

I had no idea where it was going, so when it got there I was shook!

This is my first ever Tennessee Williams and I definitely want to read m
...more
Ariya
Mar 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-reads
I don't understand what hate is. How can you hate anybody and still be sane? Yes, we all use each other and that's what we think of as love, not being able to use each other is what's -- hate.

Didn't you ask me, once? And didn't I say that I didn't understand hate. A ship struck an iceberg at sea -- everyone sinking but there's no reason for everyone drowning for hating everyone drowning! is it, Doctor?
...more
Samuel
Aug 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the most disquieting things I've read, a brilliantly-constructed set piece with a heart as dark and insatiable as the birds picking baby sea turtles off the beach. I don't know how to describe it without giving the whole thing away, and a simple summary doesn't do it justice anyway. It makes The Glass Menagerie look like Dora's Christmas Carol Adventure, but it's horrifyingly beautiful.

(Note: I just sort of guessed at the edition I read, since I encountered this as a .pdf file on the Inte
...more
Mark Kosobucki
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Relatively close to how the movie plays out minus some fun scenes in the asylum that would have been interesting to read. This story is fairly demented in my opinion between the ending and this sort of weird family dynamic.
Natasja | natasjalovesbooks
Dec 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: plays
I have absolutely no idea how I feel about this, so I'm going with 3 stars although it might actually be closer to 2? Can't figure it out ...more
Onur
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I'm in love with everything that Tennessee Williams wrote. ...more
Danielle H
When you get an article to read in advance of starting a play featuring the word cannibalism, you may think it is being used metaphorically. And then you read the play and you're like, well, okay then, it was not in fact that, and you close the book and try to go on with your evening. ...more
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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.

Raised in St. Louis, Missouri, after years of obscurity, at age 33 he became famous with the success of
...more

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