New York | 2h 30m | Already closed

Orpheus Descending

From 7 critic and 7 member reviews
Members say: Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Ambitious, Intense

About the show

The Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival presents a revival of the playwright's poetic retelling of the Orpheus myth. More…

In this heartbreaking and rarely mounted classic, a drifter named Val arrives in a small Southern town where he awakens long-repressed desires with inevitable consequences. Directed by Obie Award winner Austin Pendleton, the production features a 16-person cast.

Stage Buddy

“This ‘Orpheus’ is nothing short of thrilling. Audiences should not expect spectacular sets, costuming, and lighting here. What they can depend on are viscerally felt, beautifully calibrated performances, especially from the actors in the two leading roles: Irene Glezos and Todd D’Amour...Not all the actors rise quite to the level of the two leads, but several give impressive turns.” Full Review

Out Magazine

“Glezos captivates the audience. She deftly conveys every layer of sorrow and anguish that envelops Lady...Pendleton’s direction ensures every word is mired in the emotional reality of the characters, and his omission of an intermission forces us to remain immersed in the play…The play’s discourse on religion and faith are made all the more tangible, omnipresent, and haunting long after curtain call.” Full Review

Stage and Cinema

“Mr. Pendleton’s spare staging with little in the way of set and lighting, and with only rudimentary blocking, succeeds in bringing us closer to the essences of characters and story...I was riveted for the entire intermission-free two-and-a-half-hours...There are a few flaws in the execution. Some of the performances don’t quite resonate with that satisfying click or perfection...Most unfortunate is Mr. D’Amour, who seems to be tragically miscast." Full Review

Plays to See

"Those fascinated by Tennessee Williams should make it to this. 'Orpheus Descending' is a beautiful mess, rarely performed and almost never with great success...Williams is at his lyrical best here, and on the knife edge at the end of realism...The play functions almost like opera, riding on the emotional force of arias with not overmuch concern for the literal plausibility of the plot points. Driving it all is pure passion, or frankly, sexual desire. And here, this production seems amiss." Full Review


"A fair take on one of the author's rarely-seen works...D'Amour gives a beguiling performance as Val...As Lady, Glezos is a Williams heroine in definite need of escape...Unfortunately, the play is rarely so alive when our two protagonists are offstage...This is a decent production of an unspectacular play, sure to excite serious students of Williams, but likely to leave the casual viewer confused and bored by its meandering plot." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Astutely directed by Pendleton...The large cast makes for an unexpectedly folksy show...Pendleton does what he can to add depth and dimension to this story that comes off more as soap opera than classical drama...Were the source material stronger, it would be a gripping production...'Orpheus Descending' is a play best suited for only the most ardent of Williams devotees, though Pendleton and the ensemble do a noble job of making it as palatable as possible for all." Full Review

Front Row Center

"Neither its holy surroundings nor St. Jude (patron saint of impossible causes) could help this misguided production. The three principal characters – Lady Torrance, Val Xavier, and Carol Cutrere – are so miscast that no additional rehearsal could light a fire under them. The actors often race through hollow dialogue, with no subtext, no imagery put forth, no true inner life, and worst of all, no chemistry between them." Full Review

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Masterful, Must see

See it if you like a rarely seen, good Tennessee Williams drama performed well. The cast performs with emotional integrity and grit. It's excellent!

Don't see it if you can't sit for 2.5 hours, hate heavy drama, hate Williams, think every show should make you feel happy, hate to think, and hate to feel.

Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Ambitious, Intelligent

See it if You're a Williams aficionado! This bare bones production delivers w/ great acting/directing in a rarely seen early work.

Don't see it if need big production values. It's minimally produced but that doesn't detract from the play or performances.

Great acting, Intense, Riveting, Thought-provoking

See it if You are a fan of Tennessee Williams. This is rarely produced and the acting and direction are great.

Don't see it if You need a strong plot. This is more about human bondage in its many forms. Emotional, mental, and physical.

Ambitious, Great staging, Original

See it if To me any Tennessee .Williams work is "TO SEE" I have not sen this previously and loved the idea of seeing it in a church,.Cushions avail.

Don't see it if Only no-no is 2 1/2 hours without an intermission The renaissance man Austin Pendleto who directed the play was in attendance.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Slow, Thought-provoking, Original

See it if You like Tennessee Williams, great acting and directing.

Don't see it if You want a fast paced plot.

Dated, Slow, Thought-provoking, Overwritten

See it if you're eager to see this little produced Tennessee Williams. A large uneven ensemble, with a few standout performances. Unique venue.

Don't see it if you can't stand the 2.5 hour, intermission-less run time, sitting in a church pew. A few performances strike false notes as well.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful

See it if Williams is always a great view

Don't see it if Your too high brow

Cast & Creatives (21)