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.
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.
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Read Juliet Wittman's review of Curious Theater Company's Collapse here.