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Taking Another Streetcar: A Review of Falcon Theatre’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”

Review by Alan Jozwiak of A Streetcar Named Desire: Falcon Theatre

They told me to take a streetcar named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at–Elysian Fields!  –Blanche Dubois

Blanche DuBois’s directions are not for getting onto the Cincinnati streetcar, but THE streetcar—A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.  First produced in 1947, this standard of the American stage is currently being remounted by Falcon Theatre.

Streetcar explores what happens when fragile artistic Blanche DuBois (Tara Wiliams) comes to stay with her sister Stella (Ellie Margolis) and her aggressive working-class husband Stanley (Phineas Clark).  What follows is a game of cat and mouse between the preening Blanche and the physically dominant Stanley until the two collide in a climactic way on the night that Stella gives birth to her and Stanley’s first child.

Director Nate Netzley sets Streetcar in contemporary times; there are discarded fast food containers littering the stage at the start of the show, as well as other hints within the stage that we are in the present day.  This move works well—except during the times when the set and contemporary staging come in conflict with the scripted dialogue. It produces a disconnect which pulled me out of the action several times.

Despite these small glitches, Netzley is able to get his actors to deliver strong performances.  Williams as Blanche DuBois was wonderful; she was able to capture the faded Southern belle perfectly so that her preening and flirting work for her character.  Williams’ Blanche could easily devolve into caricature, but she sells the performance from her first appearance.

Phineas Clark plays a domineering Stanley Kowalski.  Emphasizing his elements of smoldering rage and intense emotion, Clark wonderfully captures the repressed rage within the working class ethos embodied by Stanley’s character.  Clark is best when he is working off of Williams’s preening Blanche.  The climactic scene when Blanche loses her touch with reality and Stanley finally overpowers her displays the best that each actor brings to their respective roles.

Also strong was Stella (Ellie Margolis) and Mitch (Charlie Roetting). Usually these roles are forgettable, but each actor delivered strong performances that were surprising in their subtlety and nuance.  I got a chance to sit next to Margolis’ parents on the night when I went and learned about her background.  She is a talented actress who hopefully should go far.

Overall, this Streetcar stays on track, stops only to pick up passengers, and runs swiftly to its tragic conclusion.  The show runs two hours and thirty-five minutes, but feels much shorter because of the tightness of the pacing.

A Streetcar Named Desire runs until March 31, 2018, with performances running Thursdays through Saturdays.  For more information on tickets, visit the Falcon Theatre’s website http://falcontheater.net/current-season/streetcar/