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Tennessee Williamss Camino Real, with its large cast and 16 mercurial, dream-like scenes, spectacularly expresses the playwrights nightmare vision of what our world may be coming to and, at the same time, affirms his Romantic hopeless hope for the heart's renewal through love. The characters are symbolic, archetypal figures from literature who are caught in an Orwellian dreamscape, some unnamed Latinate country dominated by military police. Don Quixote, lost without his Sancho Panza, lies down in exhaustion to dream his way to a new companion and a new life.
The play is Don Quixote's dream, populated by three groups of characters: 1) outcasts and the predators that hassle them, a Les Misèrables-like entourage of survivors no longer surviving, 2) decadents, sensualists no longer youngMarguerite Gautier (from the novel Camille), Proust's Baron de Charlus, and Casanova, resembling Williamss more realistic characters from plays like A Streetcar Named Desire and Sweet Bird of Youth, and 3) ragtag idealistsDon Quixote, Lord Byron, and a doomed hero, Kilroy, American GI, lover and loser, an incarnation of masculine beauty and pain reminiscent of Val Xavier (Orpheus Descending), Chance Wayne (Sweet Bird of Youth) and Brick Pollitt (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof). Among the many layers of pleasure this play affords is a chance for audiences to examine numerous images of the human plights and destinies Williams felt so deeply for abstracted and constellated in one work. The play is a Mad Hatter's Tea Party of Williamss themes and obsessions. (from The Shakespeare Theatre)