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Huss, R. (1980). Kirche, Kutchen und Kinder (a work in progress) by Tennessee Williams. Produced by the Jean Cocteau Repertory Company at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre in New York City, September through December, 1979.. Psychoanal. Rev., 67(2):277-281.

(1980). Psychoanalytic Review, 67(2):277-281

Drama

Kirche, Kutchen und Kinder (a work in progress) by Tennessee Williams. Produced by the Jean Cocteau Repertory Company at the Bouwerie Lane Theatre in New York City, September through December, 1979.

Review by:
Roy Huss

“Go to church, tend the kitchen, and rear the children”—these three precepts for moral and social conduct that Freud's Vienna assumed to be axiomatic for a woman's well-being even before Hitler's Germany adopted them as national feminine ideals—have in modern times become symptoms of and metaphors for the socially and sexually unliberated woman. Theatergoers might therefore assume from the title of Tennessee Williams' new “play in progress” that they could look forward to an evening of pro-feminist iconoclasms. If so, they would be greatly mistaken.

The protagonist of Williams' “outrage for the stage” (the playwright's own subtitle for his play) is neither an entrapped Victorian ingenue, like Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House, nor a more recent female disruptor of male complacency, like Ann Whitefield in Shaw's Man and Superman. Rather, the spotlight falls upon a “volumtarily” retired male hustler who ultimately feels himself hemmed in by those same above-mentioned female-associated constraints: a kutchen (dominated by a scullery-maid kind of wife wedded to her stove and preoccupied with making and eating crullers) and two kinder (in the shape of a giggling adolescent son and daughter still in kindergarten).

The kirche is a more complex matter. Supposedly located in Manhattan's Soho, it is the play's principal mise en scène, a refuge for both body and mind. It is where the ex-hustler practices his new profession, minister of some private religion, and where he can feel himself to be enthroned like a “descendant of the old kings of Ireland.

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