And it didn't stop there. For some audience members, apparently, even the rape scene was irresistibly funny.
In a way, the titters were excusable. Given actors with the passion and power both Riggins and Staunton can so easily muster, there's no excuse whatever for blowing this scene, but blow it Hicks did, as Stanley, clad in grotesquely unflattering purple pajamas, carried Blanche off stage in the direction of the bathroom. The bathroom? There's a bed right there at center stage, or -- if Stanley doesn't want to defile his marriage bed -- there's the floor. I mean, what is he going to do, toss her in the tub? And no sooner has Riggins uttered (or rather thrown away -- he's almost off stage when he says it) the famous line "We've had this date with each other from the beginning" than a young man runs alongside the stage firing off a cap gun. Was this supposed to represent the shot whereby Blanche's husband killed himself or the fact that she was getting banged?
January LaVoy (left) and Candy Brown in A
Streetcar Named Desire.
Presented by the Denver Center
Theatre Company through
February 14, 303-893-4100, www.denvercenter.org
Space Theatre, Denver Performing
Arts Complex, 14th and Curtis
Now that I've mentioned the pajamas, I'm compelled to add that many of David Kay Mickelsen's costumes are truly ghastly. Blanche's shiny, pink, ruffled number distracted me for endless minutes. LaVoy fared better, though her sexy kimono ended in a pair of ugly, flat black shoes. Both women's slips looked like something Natalie Wood might have worn in her girlish bedroom in a '50s teen flick.
When the play was over, the entire audience -- including the chortlers -- rose to give it a standing ovation. I've no idea what they were thinking. But everyone was smiling, and no one seemed the least bit distressed by the devastating ending.
It occurred to me later that the actors may have been thrown by the laughter, and perhaps this production has worked better on other nights. Certainly it's hard to see how so much talent in the service of such an evocative play could go so wrong.