New York | 2h 25m | Already closed


From 16 critic and 15 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Ambitious, Intelligent, Absorbing, Entertaining

About the show

59 E 59 presents six world premiere plays based on Tennessee Williams' short stories. More…

Six of America's most lauded playwrights - Elizabeth Egloff, Marcus Gardley, Rebecca Gilman, David Grimm, John Guare, and Beth Henley - come together for a celebration of one of America's greatest wordsmiths. Adapted from Tennessee Williams' short stories, they plays include 'The Black Masseur,' 'The Field of Blue Children,' 'Oriflamme,' 'Portrait of a Girl in Glass,' 'The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin,' and 'Tent Worms.' Depicting love and innocence, isolation and loss, the unforgettable tales of 'Desire' serve as a reminder that great stories have the power to change one's life.


"Audiences will not want to miss this opportunity to see the work of Williams brilliantly adapted for the stage. The show has extraordinary direction by Michael Wilson. Each and every scene is entrancing...The collection of shorts has just the right variety of themes to keep the audience completely captivated." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"A most remarkable theatrical event ...What makes 'Desire' unprecedented, is the freedom of each playwright to handle the material while projecting the flavor of the nation’s most lyric playwright. Drawing out the uniqueness while retaining the Williams aura is no mean feat, and Wilson’s brilliant direction accomplishes it with panache." Full Review


"The plays are acute, well written, and skillfully acted. Director Michael Wilson’s unique perspective pairs with the adaptions to convey the real, poetic truths inherent in Williams. The best allow Williams’s voice and characters to reign and enforce the unique mark of the playwrights as they fashion Williams’s works to make them their own." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A must for Williams fans, 'Desire' is filled with so many grace notes and accomplished performances that it should prove satisfying for all. At its best, it's a captivating collaboration across the generations, resulting in new works that are solidly grounded in the lesser-known writings of one of our greatest artists." Full Review


"If there is one thing that is consistent across this series of shorts, it is the language, reveling in itself and prone to musical, expansive monologues that transport you to another world...Under the expert guidance of these six playwrights, Tennessee Williams' prose 'makes you remember things you didn't know you'd forgotten.'" Full Review

New York Daily News

"A new Tennessee Williams tasting menu of one-acts goes down easy. Some specific courses leave something to be desired, but each work brings echoes of Williams’ indelible characters — and reminders of how the playwright could go from poetic to purple like nobody else." Full Review

Time Out New York

"While any night of vignettes is inevitably mixed, this program is satisfying in small, intense doses...Michael Wilson directs an appealing, uniformly good ensemble and the movements flow swiftly, offering variety at every turn. Most American playwrights today owe some debt to Williams; it’s a pleasure, even inspiring, to see six give back." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"With these adapted short stories, he has opened an entirely new avenue to explore, and given that Williams published dozens of stories in addition to his plays, there is clearly more to be mined. The performances by a very solid cast, along with excellent scenic and projection desgn and costumes, make 'Desire' an important addition to the list of theater works for Williams aficionados to discover." Full Review

Theatre's Leiter Side

"This kind of thing is always a dangerous undertaking as the literary requirements of the short story form and the dramatic ones of one-act plays don’t always mesh, even when the short story writer is also a great dramatist. The plays on view range from mediocre to memorable. " Full Review

New York Theater

"The plays vary in their fidelity to their source, and in their effectiveness on stage. But together they offer a fascinating lesson in the art of adaptation, and serve as a welcome stimulus to become acquainted, or reacquainted, with the short stories that Williams wrote his entire life." Full Review

New York Post

"The evening is uneven — a given with this sort of project. But director Michael Wilson pulls together the various approaches, the cast swiftly switches from role to role, and Williams’ themes and obsessions mostly come through, even when the adapters take liberties with the stories." Full Review

Westchester Guardian

"What is certain is that each of these playwrights, in an evening titled 'Desire,' went about the task of adaptation in his or her individual way, with differing degrees of success...Michael Wilson has directed savvily, and all the actors, who play two or three roles each, are members of The Acting Company and highly competent." Full Review

Bob's Theater Blog

"The Acting Company commissioned six playwrights to write short plays based on stories by Tennessee Williams. The results are decidedly mixed...Jeff Cowie’s set design of weathered planks provides a neutral background for his projections. David C. Woolard’s costumes are fine. Michael Wilson’s direction is fluid." Full Review

The New York Times

"The playwrights take varied approaches to dramatizing Williams’s stories...Some are more successful than others in giving fleshed-out form to these often minor tales. The larger question is whether second-guessing the writer himself, is a fruitful pastime. Over all, on the evidence of this production, I’d have to say no." Full Review

Theatre Reviews Limited

"Overall, these six plays by distinguished playwrights lack the intense passion of Tennessee Williams’ writing though three come very close and are outstanding. The grittiness and despair found in the originals has been sanitized and the psychological trauma that accompanies being human succumbs to an uncomfortable blandness...Direction by Michael Wilson is overall proficient and serviceable but not always consistent from short play to short play." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"Another in a series of theatrical misadventures that makes you question the management of the Tennessee Williams estate. I wouldn’t be complaining about this if any of the experiments were ever any good, but they’re not, and this latest one is particularly annoying, like shaking up a soda can full of tired Tennesseeisms." Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Great acting

See it if Tennessee Williams Characters come alive in this short stories adaptation. Beautifully acted & Skillfully directed by Michael Wilson.

Don't see it if Nothing to say

Great acting, Edgy, Resonant, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if You love Tennessee Williams

Don't see it if You're easily offended. Surprise: these adaptations include issues of race, sexuality, religion and canibalism (OK, the last IS a surprise).

Entertaining, Great acting, Great staging, Ambitious, Quirky

See it if You are a fan of Tennessee Williams. If you want to see an outstanding performance of a future star: Liv Rooth.

Don't see it if You like consistency in your theatergoing. Some pieces are excellent; some not so much.

Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Touching, Engaging

See it if Enjoy well-acted short plays - cast is terrific and believable in all roles. You don't need to know T Williams' work to find much to like.

Don't see it if You are precious about "tampering" with an author's work/vision. These are inspired by, not adapted from, short stories.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if You love Tennessee Williams, although perhaps not if you love his work to the point of feeling that it should not be adapted freely.

Don't see it if You get disturbed easily or if you only enjoy purely "up" shows.

Ambitious, Entertaining, Disappointing, Great acting, Indulgent

See it if you love Tennessee Williams and enjoy seeing his masterpieces revisited by contemporary playwrights.

Don't see it if you expect to experience levels of writing that match Tennessee Williams!

Great acting, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you are Tennessee Williams Fan and enjoy short plays

Don't see it if You do not like Tennessee Williams or are easily offended by subject matter.

Ambitious, Great acting, Resonant, Slow, Clever

See it if you like Tennessee Williams and short play compositions.

Don't see it if you don't like Tennessee Williams.

Ambitious, Quirky, Slow, Disappointing

See it if you can't get enough of Tennessee Wms, even if this is ersatz TW. Some pieces worked better than others, but the evening was slooow.

Don't see it if you have the option of seeing real TW. He wrote lots of good, interesting plays (these were adapted stories). Acting was overall solid.

Also I'm catching up on old reviews. DESIRE was not a memorable theater goi... Read more Read less

Disappointing, Indulgent

See it if u are a Tennessee Williams completist (like me) & want to see contemporary writers adapt or riff on TW stories. Yaegel T. Welch is masseur!!

Don't see it if you expect effective drama from six short plays. Production is good, but I ask "Why do it in the first place?" Unnecessary theater.

Disappointing, Great acting, Banal, Dated, Intelligent

See it if You love Tennessee Williams, especially his later experiments. One of the six plays is truly superb (by Marcus Gardley).

Don't see it if You're looking for insights into Williams or his work. Most of the writing does little to illuminate the stories they are adapted from.

Slow, Ambitious

See it if One-acts from great writers; John Guare, Beth Henley, Elizabeth Egloff, etc based on Tennessee Williams short stories.

Don't see it if You aren't familiar with the work of Tennessee Williams.

Absorbing, Edgy, Ambitious, Great writing, Intense

See it if See this if you enjoy Tennessee William's writing .

Don't see it if Are interested in something more modern.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Resonant

See it if you enjoy Tennessee Williams. Six short story adaptations with the same power and thought provocative dialogue.

Don't see it if your looking for big productions as this haminimal staging , with beautiful rear projections and classical music to heighten the poetic mood

During previews
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if ... you appreciate great acting, great writing, great staging AND Tennessee Williams!

Don't see it if ... the last show you loved was Hello Dolly.

Cast & Creatives (22)