Tennessee Williams won the 1948 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with A Streetcar Named Desire. It has been the source for three movies, an opera and a ballet. It is considered to be an American classic and one of the best plays Tennessee Williams wrote.
Just a warning, the play does have adult themes and some violence and is not really suited for children.
The production currently running at the PCA showcases several excellent actors and features the usual PCA crew’s spare evocative sets, carefully chosen music, spot on costumes and appropriately moody lighting. This may seem trivial but one notable feature of the set was the very sturdily built bathroom door, which must withstand repeated forceful slamming.
The story is a tragic tale, set in a dingy neighborhood in New Orleans, of a would be southern belle whose life is disintegrating. Blanch DuBois, raised to believe that her life would be a sunlit tale of marriage, family, and the good life at the family plantation Belle Reve, is unequipped for the brutal reality of death, decay, and poverty in which she finds herself. Her self destructive responses are increasingly filled with fantasy. Blanche’s problems bring her to the doorstep of her sister and brother-in-law.
The other major player in this story is Stanley, a working class man, intelligent but untaught, ambitious but lacking opportunity, trapped in his dingy life. The better side of Stanley is centered on his relationship with his wife, Stella, who is Blanche’s sister. Stella escaped from Belle Reve and has made a life for herself with Stanley, overlooking the deficiencies of their poverty and professing her great love for her husband.
The play focuses on the interplay between these characters as they struggle to maintain some equilibrium in the pressure cooker of a tiny two room apartment.
The character Blanche is on stage for almost all of this quite long play. Mr. Williams gave her a load of words; her talkativeness is a major irritations for Stanley. She is constantly conversing, meditating, fantasizing or arguing. Her thoughts pour out unfiltered. Linda Harris who plays Blanche was virtually word perfect. This is quite a triumph in itself, but much more is necessary. Blanche is also very emotional. Ms. Harris catches and projects all the nuances of this complex character.
Stanley is also a difficult character to portray. Alex McKay, seen here for the first time at the PCA, does quite a good job of making a man who could be seen as just a villain more real and faceted. After all, he didn’t ask for his sister-in-law to invade his space, with her filmy dresses and her total disdain for him and his life. Mr. McKay gives us a cunning, sometimes violent, man with little self awareness. One who reacts as his life so far has taught him. He has a plan, and nothing can stop him.
Stella, played with understanding by Cathleen Cunningham, finds herself in the middle. While she loves her sister, she is caught in the whirlpool of destruction that Blanche’s arrival sets off.
The other characters are all well played. Philip Matosiich (Mitch), Rick Judy (Steve), Kathleen Davis (Eunice), Leslie Jenkins (several parts), Robert Diamone (Pablo), and Lance Sandeleben (Doctor) are all quite believable.
Special mention must go to Marnie Uhl, the stage manager. ]There is much action, lots of business, and many props to deal with on stage. Ms Uhl keeps thing moving along with as little disruption as possible.
One thing that always looms over a new production of a very famous play is the shadow of the movies and other productions from the past. DirectorJean Lippincourt brings a long history in the theatre to bear with great results. She has made this a play which resonates with the here and now audience.
Performances of A Streetcar Named Desire:
All performances at PCA Main Stage
208 N. Marina, Prescott
Thursday Feb. 7, Friday Feb. 8 and Saturday Feb. 9 7:30 P.M.
Thursday Feb. 14, Friday Feb. 15 and Saturday Feb 16 7:30 P.M
Sunday Feb. 10, Saturday Feb. 16 and Sunday Feb 17 2:00 P.M.
For ticket information including pricing, discounts, policies and more, check the PCA website at: www.pca-az.net or call at: (928) 445-3286