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Suddenly Last Summer

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  6,104 ratings  ·  133 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 1st 1958)
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3.97  · 
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 ·  6,104 ratings  ·  133 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
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
Mar 06, 2016 rated it liked it
I just thought it was okay. I was confused on certain parts and love others.
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.
Samir Rawas Sarayji
Apr 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: play, american-lit
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
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.
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.
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-
Robin Friedman
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 actions. The lurid c
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
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.
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
May 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Maybe my new favorite Williams. Short, beautiful, tragic, haunting, and shocking.
This play scared the shit out of me....and I loved every second of it
Ryan Brady
What a disturbing, fucked up play.

I loved every second of it.

My new favorite TW play. All of the stars.
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
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?
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.
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.
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
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Plays generally don't interest me, so I purposefully selected a shorter one, by one of the only playwrights that I could think of offhand. I was a bit shocked to realize that I actually was still able to get sucked into reading and finish the play in one sitting. It was disturbing and brilliant. I can't believe it came out in the 50s, I would imagine this subject material wouldn't be well received. But a movie was made? With Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn?? Kind of feel like I need to wa ...more
David Parson
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Holy child eating mother of homo!
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: delightful
Suddenly, Last Summer- screenplay by Gore Vidal and Tennessee Williams ‘play

A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

- and

Suddenly, Last Summer is an exceptional film.
It is included on the New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made list

And all the elements needed for a masterpiece are in place:

- A wonderful play written by the genius Tennessee Williams and a screenplay where he collaborated
David Valentino
Oct 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Humanity Debauched

Suddenly Last Summer Sebastian Venable died a violent death in Spain and afterwards his niece Catharine, who accompanied him instead of his mother Violet, just would not stop saying nasty things about his demise. The only solution was to call in the famous Portuguese psychiatric surgeon Dr. Cukrowicz, offer him a load of money in support of his research, and have him lobotomize Catherine. Or, as the always correct Mrs. Venable shouted in the final moments of the play, “cut this
Anne Kennedy
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My selection for a book with a season in the title was Suddenly Last Summer, a one-act play by Tennessee Williams. It is a gripping play in Southern gothic. Williams was perhaps at his most poetic with this play--the language is haunting as well as disturbing. The play centers around Mrs. Venable, Catherine and Dr. Sugar. Catherine was a witness to Sebastian's death, but his mother does not want the truth to be told. She has asked the doctor to see and hear Catherine's lunacy and perform a lobot ...more
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: play-script
I was definitely intrigued reading (waiting for the gruesome reveal), but found that this was just too short or too contained for me to really love it. Maybe it's better as a performance --I'll bet all the bird noises and music and lighting are really creepy and wonderful.
That's one of the things I love about Tennessee Williams: His stage directions (sound and lighting) are so specific and integral to his pieces. I really enjoy his writing and dialogue in general, but the sound and lighting dir
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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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