The Night of the Iguana (New Directions, 2009)
by Tennessee Williams
With practically every reason in the world to take a swipe at this work, I have to admit that I actually enjoyed this Tennessee Williams play in spite of its stereotypical characters, fairly heavyhanded symbolism, and that "theatrical" timing thing where major characters conveniently die at the end of an act. Although the idea of a platonic love story of sorts having to do with a defrocked cleric turned jailbait-obsessed tour guide and a spinsterly New England portrait artist still sounds like a really bad idea to me, Williams must have done something right to make their hunger for connection between people feel real by the end of Act Three. Maddeningly, what that something was isn't entirely clear to me at this point. While the dialogue's snappy enough and occasionally even very striking, certain exchanges among the characters seem dated beyond belief. Making allowances for the possibility that the playwright might have intended this anachronistic vibe given the Mexico 1940 setting, I'm still not sure I can explain away either the overheated tone or how extremely annoying most of the characters are. In short, I'm essentially mystified by how Williams turned such a corny story into a feat of emotional legerdemain. While you ponder whether that was a backhanded compliment or not, I will return to my vacation and the important business of eating empanadas and such in a city way more happening than my own. Later. (www.ndpublishing.com)
Tennessee (in a) Tuxedo
Night of the Iguana was the March shared read selected by my reading group friends Claire from kiss a cloud, Emily from Evening All Afternoon, Frances from Nonsuch Book, and Sarah from what we have here is a failure to communicate.