“Each of us has his own private hell to go to,” says gigolo Chance Wayne to actress Alexandra Del Lago in Tennessee Williams’ 1959 play Sweet Bird of Youth. Having freshly navigated the annual familial hellspace that is the holidays, we can all relate. In Williams’ play, the pill-popping Chance (originated by Paul Newman on stage) has returned to a specific hell – St. Cloud, Fla. – in hopes of reuniting with his ex-girlfriend, but instead finds himself in bed with Del Lago, also known as Princess, whom he sees as his ticket to Hollywood. It’s an interesting choice of material for Orlando Shakes to squeeze in between Williams’ omnipresent classics, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, read last September, and March’s big conclusion, A Streetcar Named Desire. While Youth is not regarded as one of Williams’ best, his depiction of Central Florida as a go-nowhere, backward place of forgotten dreams hasn’t lost its resonance a half-century later. Sob. – Justin Strout (7 p.m. at Lowndes Shakespeare Center, 812 E. Rollins St.; 407-447-1700; orlandoshakes.org; free)
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