“Kingdom of Earth” opened in Tennessee Williams’ hometown April 1 and runs through the 13.
The original title of Tennessee Williams’ play “The Seven Descents of Myrtle,” “Kingdom of Earth” is about a neurotic, young transvestite named Lot who has an unhealthy attachment to the memory of his late mother. He returns to his crumbling ancestral home on the edge of an overflowing Mississippi River with his new bride, Myrtle, a former showgirl. Myrtle hopes to nurse Lot back to health so that they can consummate their marriage but soon finds out he only wants to sure her to get the deed to the house from his multiracial, half-brother, Chicken.
Myrtle is said to call to mind Blanche Dubois from “A Streetcar Named Desire” and has been played by Estelle Parsons on stage, who was nominated for a Tony Award, and Marianne Faithful for a London production. Ed Harris played Lot in the California production, and the play was also adapted for film in 1970 with the title “Last of the Mobile Hot Shots.”
Being performed in Williams’ hometown of Columbus, Mississippi, through April 13, this rarely performed production includes locals Cherri Golden as Myrtle, along with David Trotter as Chicken and Starkville’s Alex Orsak as Lot. Standing in for Lot’s family home is the Old Alford Drug Co., an intimate setting for this dysfunctional story. Director is M.J. Etua, an award-winning teacher, actress and playwright who is directing Tennessee Williams for the first time.
“Columbus, Mississippi, is so fortunate to have such a legend as a native son,” Etua says. “Williams is such an intuitive playwright, as well as being very progressive for his time. I appreciate ‘Kingdom of Earth’ for its timeless issues and its bold statement of how we need to reflect on our society.”
The production is part of the town’s Spring Pilgrimage, which features tours of 14 restored antebellum homes, three churches, the popular Tales From the Crypt cemetery event, carriage and double-decker bus rides, parties, live music and more. Also open to visitors is the Victorian home and childhood residence of Tennessee Williams and his grandparents. See the full schedule of events here.
“Kingdom of Earth” will be performed nightly through April 13, except for a 2:30 p.m. matinee on Sunday, April 7. Tickets are $15 at the door or $10 in advance. Call 662-328-2787 to reserve.
Photo Credits: Cast photo by Luisa Porter/Dispatch Staff and set photo by Christopher Blank.