Sunburst/The One Exceptionby Tennessee Williams
directed by Patrick Falco (Sunburst) and Antonio Ocampo-Guzman (The One Exception)
In Sunburst, Miss Sails, “a lady of somewhat advanced years” who “is in retirement from a long career as an actress,” falls hostage to Luigi and Giuseppe, young men scheming to steal her priceless sunburst diamond. Miss Sails attempts to resist her captors by reciting quotations from Shakespeare. Williams said there would be “no more Southern Belles” in his later work, and his late heroines are no longer defeated by life nor are they left to the mercy of a cruel world. Like Miss Sails, these characters find the strength to survive on their ownterms and mirror Williams’ own struggle in his later years.
The One Exception is clearly dated by Williams as January 1983, and was the last one-act play that Williams completedbefore his death in February 1983. The play’s main characters, Kyra and Viola, are both artists who cling to creative workfor meaning, but Kyra has lost touch with the most recentartistic trends and fears the isolation that awaits her, while Viola approaches her in her moment of crisis only to take advantage of her. Institutional confi nement, loneliness, and the un-kindness of predatory “friends” were fears that plaguedWilliams throughout his career. Kyra and Viola reflect his own struggle for survival within himself, his insistence on always moving forward, as he, like Kyra, faced a “paralysis-of–decision.” While the play certainly recalls both the final scene of A Streetcar Named Desire and Williams’ own three-month confi nement to the psychiatric ward of Barnes Hospital in St.Louis in 1969, it most directly refers to the institutionalization of his sister Rose, with its looming threat of “The Lodge”– most likely a reference to Stony Lodge in upstate NY where his sister Rose spent much of her life.
– Annette Saddik