Writers' Theatre presents
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
Reviewed by Katy Walsh
'I don't want realism. I want magic!' In this production, the audience gets both! Writers' Theatre presents A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE by Tennessee Williams. A faded Southern belle visits her sister in New Orleans. The French Quarter is a sultry and bawdy haven. The brother-in-law is an unrefined Pollock - 'like the Irish but not as highbrow.' Worlds collide in a prude verses vulgar match-up. Temperatures rise as the houseguest extends her stay indefinitely. It's stifling and oppressive ...and not just the weather. The only thing separating desire and madness is the sheer curtain in a two room apartment. Writers' Theatre enchants with this raw depiction of the family ties that strangle. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE is a three hour ride that is captivating right up until it comes to a complete stop.
The memorable and award winning performances of Vivian Leigh and Marlon Brando in the immortalized movie are hard to compete against. Under the masterful direction of David Cromer, this cast is not only a contender, but a winner! They own their roles! Natasha Lowe (Blanche DuBois) was born to play Blanche. 'I know I fib a lot. 50% of a woman's charm is illusion.' Lowe IS charming as a manipulative, withering flower. She delivers her lines with a far off look and insincere sincerity. 'I tell people what should be the truth.' Lowe is magnificent! Playing her brother-in-law, Matt Hawkins (Stanley Kowalski) is the loud talking, chicken throwing, hothead. Drunk or not, Hawkins swaggers his ripped shirtless body with sheer brutal masculinity. His rage is all consuming and not just a little frightening. Playing Hawkins' wife on and off stage, Stacy Stoltz (Stella Kowalski) is the understated connector of these big personalities. 'I like to wait on you. It makes me feel like home.' Stoltz interacts with reserved contained emotion in the tumultuous household. Danny McCarthy (Harold 'Mitch' Mitchell) is adorable as the lonely bachelor. McCarthy courts Blanche with all the sweet awkwardness of a blue collar mama's boy. Leading a wonderful supporting ensemble, Jennifer Engstrom (Eunice Hubbell) makes a small role stick out as the nosy neighbor.
Cromer stages the action to fill the space. With simultaneous activity keeping it real, it's the audience's challenge to decide where to look. Collette Pollard has designed a set allowing the audience to be a fly on the wall in the Kowalski's home. The theatre encircles the two room apartment. It's fifties simplistic with vinyl chairs and kitchen screen door. There are stairs going up to the neighbor's apartment. Josh Schmidt's design is so authentic with muffled sounds of telephone, arguing and crying coming from the unseen second floor that you want to climb the stairs to see how the Hubbell's decorated their place. David Woolley (Fight Director) choreographs the roughhousing with shocking chaos. From cast to designers, Cromer assembled the ideal pit crew so he could drive A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE along the scenic route. Next Stop: Success!
Overcoming multiple obstacles to see the show, Jen says, "The superb acting and excellent set design created a riveting experience."
Filed under: Writers' Theatre
Tags: Collette Pollard, Danny McCarthy, David Cromer, David Woolley, Jennifer Engstrom, Josh Schmidt, Katy Walsh, Matt Hawkins, Natasha Lowe, Review "A Streetcar Named Desire", Stacy Stoltz, Tennessee Williams, Writers' Theatre, Writers' Theatre's A Streetcar Named Desire