The name Tennessee Williams is synonymous with the great American plays, and most of us know about his life after he found success with The Glass Menagerie. But what about his early life? It’s this period of Williams’ life that’s covered in Jacob Storms’ Tennessee Rising which is playing this Edinburgh Fringe at the Assembly Rooms.
This enticing monologue takes us through the formative years of one of America’s greatest playwrights. Starting in New Orleans and traversing to all corners of the US, from Los Angeles to New York via Florida we learn about the steps that led to Williams’ success.
Playing Williams, Jacob Storms takes us back and forth in time, really exploring the playwrights childhood, in particular his relationship with his puritanical mother and his sister Rose, who was committed to a sanatorium. It was these experiences that inspired one of his greatest plays, but this is not the only hint to future works sewn into this fascinating play.
Our Tennessee Williams name drops the great and the good of the pre-war art scene; Arthur Miller, Joan Crawford and Jackson Pollock are just some of the famous names that Williams encountered as he travelled the United States, scraping together enough money to survive before finding eventual success.
Storms tells these stories with a mixture of passion and humour, witty one liners are peppered throughout the well-researched piece, with along Southern drawl, Storms effectively recreates the time period with descriptive storytelling.
As war looms ever closer, Tennessee Rising acts as a commentary on the rise of fascism and doesn’t shy away from the dark forces that were on the rise then, and are rearing their ugly heads again.
Tennessee Rising is an absorbing look at the life of a towering figure in the theatre world, viewing his life from a different perspective that is accessible for any audience member, regardless of their prior knowledge of the great Tennessee Williams.