Chance Wayne, a handsome would-be actor who did not “make it” in Hollywood and is now a gigolo. He has maneuvered his traveling companion, Princess Kosmonopolis, to visit his birthplace, St. Cloud, a small town on the Gulf of Mexico. His plan is to get the princess, who is really a faded film star, Alexandra Del Lago, to help him and Heavenly Finley, the youthful sweetheart he had deserted, begin careers in the motion picture industry. During their short stay, however, he learns that Heavenly has had a hysterectomy, because of his having given her a venereal disease, and that her father, Boss Finley, and her brother, Tom Junior, are waiting to castrate Chance if he ever shows his face in St. Cloud again. As the play ends, Chance recognizes that his youth has passed, that his dreams of stardom and Heavenly will never materialize, and that he must wait for the inevitable with what the playwright calls “deathbed dignity.”
Princess Kosmonopolis, also known as Alexandra Del Lago, a film star traveling incognito after fleeing from a preview showing of her “comeback” film. She uses every service and distraction Chance offers, from oxygen, pills, liquor, and hashish to sex. She cannot forget, however, what she believes to be her failed attempt to return to motion pictures as a middle-aged woman. Toward the end of the play, she learns that her film is a success, and she offers to take Chance with her on the return trip to Hollywood, but he declines. She, too, has lost the “sweet bird of youth,” but time has allowed her a slight reprieve.
Boss Finley, the father of Heavenly and Tom Junior, a caricature of a “redneck” pre-civil rights politician. His concern for his daughter stems from his fear of what...
(The entire section is 752 words.)