September 10, 2015

“Desire” makes for a generic if apt title for a collection of short plays adapted from stories by Tennessee Williams, the playwright who has anatomized that emotion — its pleasures, tortures, dangers — more thoroughly and with more lyric eloquence than any other. This production from the Acting Company, which opened on Thursday at the 59E59 Theaters, directed by Michael Wilson, features works from six notable playwrights, based on tales mostly written by Williams in the 1940s. The playwrights take varied approaches to dramatizing Williams’s stories, which often breathe with the same fervent romanticism that marks his plays. 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, who occasionally adapted his short fiction for the stage, is a fruitful pastime. Over all, on the evidence of this production, I’d have to say no.