Süßer Vogel Jugend / Sweet Bird of Youth
St. Cloud, a small town on the Florida coast. Handsome Chance Wayne, once half the town’s object of desire but now no longer in his first youth, has returned home. His acting career failed before it really began and now he makes a living by letting lonely hearts believe in a great love story. Currently, he is the toy-boy of aging Hollywood star Alexandra del Lago, jaded and addicted to pills. Under the alias of Princess Kosmonopolis, she in turn is on the run from the ruins of her former stardom. Through her, Wayne is hoping to finally land a lucrative acting job – and to be able to free his teenage sweetheart Heavenly from the dreariness of this small town. What he doesn’t know: Their former relationship has left his beloved with a permanent stain on her health and her father, the brutal upstart and reactionary political bully Tom “Boss” Finley, is hell-bent on ridding himself of this shadow from the past once and for all. Because the memory of his daughter’s “defilement” is at odds with his election manifesto of law, order and the purity of race and morals.
In “Süßer Vogel Jugend (Sweet Bird of Youth)”, Tennessee Williams outlines a quintessentially narcissistic society, pervaded by violence and contempt, where others are only ever seen as a means to an end. A cynical and brutalised political climate sets the background to the moral decline of the people of St. Cloud, where the option of treating each other with more kindness only ever appears fleetingly, like the bird in the play’s title – or in the sentimental acknowledgment of mutual failure. But in the end, as Alexandra del Lago well knows, only one animal will survive in this pitiless world: “The biggest beast among cannibals”.