A Street Car Named Desire

A Street Car Named Desire

A Street Car Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Frank Hilgenberg
Starring Steven Pugh, Rachel Comeau, Michelle Procopio, Cory Boughton
Theatre Downtown, Orlando Florida

Nothing is harder than letting go, and the longer you delay it the worse it becomes. Stella Dubois Kowalski (Comeau) bailed early – the family estate was mortgage to the termites, and New Orleans offered opportunities better than memories. Blanche Dubois (Procopio) stuck behind to bury the ancestors and screw the solider up at Camp Shelby, but tonight she shows up broke and elegant on Stella’s doorstep. Stella went for vigor over pedigree and her hubby Stanley (Pugh) sweats for a living, drinks whiskey from the bottle, and makes Stella scream with lust. But Blanche is shocked, proper southern women don’t acknowledge orgasms and do their best to hide them under lavender powder and $12 an ounce perfume. (You know the type – they sit in front of you in church after it’s too late to find a better smelling pew.) Blanche’s unwanted intrusion puts Stanley in a tree and then she throws rhinestone tiaras at him – she drinks his booze, dominates his bathroom and tries to talk his wife into leaving him if only to validate her martyrdom to family. In her mind two Southern Belles starving together looks better than one Southern Belle breeding with a swarthy immigrant. While Blanche is slightly past her Sell By date, Harold Mitchell (Boughton) is the straw she graps in her personal windstorm, and if only Stan would cut the couple some slack they could have some sort of happiness.

While this production is rather long (two intermissions and some lengthy scene transitions) it uses that time wisely to deliver the full power of the story. Procopio’s Blanch seemed less fragile than conniving and while she acts horrified by Stanley’s sexuality you sense she’s secretly jealous. Pugh’s Stanley oozes sweat and anger – he and Stella had a perfectly fine life until the past came back and couldn’t even pay its meager rent. Boughton’s clean and sober Mitch could have made a life with Blanche but she made a strategic error – rather than exploit his morality she offended it. And the supporting cast surely deserves mention – Cira Larkin and Harold Longway lovingly represent what Mitch and Blanche could have been while Anthony Vito and Inge Uys represent the world outside this un air-conditioned universe: they come in when sex, violence and shame can no longer regulate home life to apply the Thorazine and electroshock.

If you’ve seen this before, you know where all this bonhomie leads, and if not I’ll just say Stan and Stella continue their sweaty lives after Blanche overplays her hand and fades away without the convenience of a decent casket. This is the last gasp of the imperial Old South – success goes to those willing to work and sweat, and the remnants of the old guard who spent the family fortune in their last grand fornication disappoint their children. And Miss Blanche – well, she was the grandest fornicator of the lot.

For more information on Theatre Downtown, please visit http://www.theatredowntown.net

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