A Streetcar Named Desire opened this past weekend at Germinal Stage Denver. Juliet Wittman's complete review will run in our November 17 issue; in the meantime, here's a capsule critique:
When Blanche DuBois, desperate and destitute, comes to live with her sister Stella in A Streetcar Named Desire, she finds Stella sexily and happily married to Stanley, a working class yob. The couple's home in the steamy New Orleans French Quarter is a long way from the sisters' privileged Southern belle background, and Blanche, with her fluttery, self-indulgent mannerisms, is like a red flag to Stanley's bull. The man may be uneducated, but he's hardly stupid, and he understands that the issues of class and propriety Blanche represents are a direct threat to his marriage. Hence his redoubled fury when he discovers how thin, frayed and dishonest her claim to gentility really is.
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The tiny stage at Germinal brings into strong focus something I'd only half noticed in the play before: These people are living in suffocating proximity to each other, denied even a whisper of privacy for sex or conversation, forced to change clothes under only the flimsiest of cover. Stanley's friend Mitch must court Blanche within earshot of Stanley's noisy poker games; Stanley fumes outside the bathroom when he needs to take a leak because his sister-in-law is enjoying the long soaks she claims she needs to settle her nerves.
An excellent production of a play as great as Streetcar -- and this is such a production -- always shifts your interpretation a little. Nuances alter; you understand the characters differently. Tom Borrillo isn't an obvious choice for Stanley, who's usually presented as a magnetically sensuous hunk, but he makes the character real and down-to-earth, clumsily bearish rather than macho, but keeping you aware at all times of Stanley's capacity for violence. I've seen Stella played as a contented cow, and Blanches who are all frantic jitter, but the characterizations here go deeper. There are a few missteps in this production, but overall it is a powerful evening of theater.
Performances run Friday, Saturday and Sunday through December 11 at Germinal Stage Denver, 2450 West 44th Avenue. For tickets, call 303-455-7108 or go to www.germinalstage.com.
Read Juliet Wittman's review of Curious Theater Company's Collapse here.