A Streetcar Named Desire | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

A Streetcar Named Desire 

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A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Shattered Globe Theatre. Happily, this Streetcar won't stop. Neither does desire--a force Tennessee Williams knows from heart to head. Here he contrasts to the point of combustion the battered aspirations of cracked belle Blanche DuBois with the sensuous brutishness of Stanley Kowalski, who defends his mediocrity like a cornered cur. Caught between is Blanche's sister Stella--Stanley's battered wife--who prefers security to Blanche's "intimacies with strangers."

Williams's masterwork never fails to fascinate. Over its three hours our sympathies shift, but we never lose compassion for these souls mired in the dark part of the French Quarter. A Streetcar Named Desire makes us choose sides--Blanche's irresponsible romanticism, or Stanley's ruthless realism--knowing that neither holds happiness.

Director Louis Contey has picked a potent cast for yet another splendid restoration from Shattered Globe Theatre. Though Kirsten Sahs is far from diaphanous or fragile, her acting provides these qualities--especially Blanche's desperate craving for "magic," whether in the form of booze, Japanese lanterns, rhinestone tiaras, or a lug named Mitch. Muscular and supple as a wolverine, Joe Forbrich has the young Brando's effortless sexuality: empty of all but hormones and phony pride, his Stanley is casually cruel, no-nonsense, repellent, and resilient. Rebecca Jordan's Stella offers solid support in a divided role, and Jim Saltouros as the salt-of-the-earth Mitch makes each moment seem spontaneous. Contey and Forbrich have created a richly convincing claustrophobic set, the more intense for being in our face. (But sadly the cigarette smoke is just as close and real.)

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