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Of all U.S. playwright Tennessee Williams’s many major works — including “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Glass Menagerie” — “Orpheus Descending,” which opens in Tokyo next week with a star-studded Japanese cast and multi-award-winning English director Phillip Breen at the helm, is among those most rarely staged anywhere.

Premiered in 1957, the play is a radical retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus, a minstrel who was taught to play the lyre by the god Apollo — but whose blissful life with a nymph named Eurydice is cut short when she’s bitten by a deadly snake while fleeing from a son of Apollo intent on rape.

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