Orpheus Descending Criticism

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In 1957 Orpheus Descending ran for sixty-eight performances in New York City; it was also produced in 1959 in London and Paris, and had an off-Broadway production in 1959. Critical response, however, was often harsh, and many considered the play to be a failure. Critics were ready to acknowledge the excellence of the poetic language and the touches of humor, but there were complaints about what was seen as a badly constructed plot, and the fact that Williams appeared to be repeating themes he had explored in earlier plays.

Henry Hewes argued in Saturday Review that the many revisions Williams had made to Battle of Angels, the play which in much revised form became Orpheus Descending, resulted in unnecessary complications to a simple tragedy, which made the action seem chaotic. Hewes did have praise for the occasions "when this play glows with Williams's magnificent awareness of the battle between the forces...

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This section contains 579 words
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Buy the Orpheus Descending Study Guide
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Orpheus Descending from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.