Theater A Streetcar Named I-Wish-Mommy-and-Daddy-Would-Stop-Fighting
posted by July 14 at 16:38 PMon
While Christopher and Jen shout at each other about Streetcar—Christopher: “You’re just gonna say Blanche was bad and not support it?” Jen: “I just couldn’t let your review stand!”—I’m putting up my goddamned review because I’m the goddamned theater editor and what I say (about theater) goes.
A Streetcar Named Desire
Through Aug 2.
“I want to find the humor in Stanley,” director Sheila Daniels told me in an interview a few weeks before Streetcar opened. “Brando didn’t find it.”
Daniels—and actor Jonno Roberts—did. Those able to tear themselves from the image of Saint Brando will see new dimensions in Tennessee Williams’s icon of masculine inadequacy and rage. He’s funny and loutish, still a sexual tiger but more vulnerable. This Streetcar inspires thoughts of a prequel, when we find out how Stanley became Stanley.
Daniels’s production also shines a light on Mitch, mostly thanks to Tim True, who plays the victim of Blanche’s dishonesty and Stanley’s cruelty with a sad, mumbling grace. Angela Pierce as Blanche, gives a slick, orthodox performance, and sails through Blanche’s late-play mad scenes without succumbing to the crazy-person caricature that has wrecked so many Blanches, Ophelias, and Lears. Chelsea Rives is a quiet triumph, keeping Stella simple and doomed.
The wound in this Streetcar —and it’s a gaping, festering one—is the “Blue Piano,” the occasional music Williams describes in his stage notes as “tinny piano being played with the infatuated fluency of brown fingers.” Daniels and sound designer Joseph Swartz apparently read this as “portentous chords laden with heavy reverb that bludgeon—and occasionally make a mockery of—the play’s pathos.” The ominous notes that followed Blanche’s revelation that her first husband was gay are egregiously goofy.
But Daniels has coaxed quality, multihued performances out of her actors. We will begin to remember them once we have forced ourselves to forget that goddamned piano. BRENDAN KILEY