Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway: An Electric and Stunning Revival for the Ages
From the moment Blanche DuBois walks on stage in her horrified discovery of Stanley and sister Stella's apartment at Elysian Fields (Williams' ironic twist on the happy place in the underworld where the spirits joyed for eternity) to the end when she leaves escorted by the doctor for the insane asylum that Stanley has committed her to, the continuity of characterization, and the dynamic, intense interplay of individuals within destructive relationships is manifested with force and brilliance in this phenomenal production for the ages, directed with acute sensibility by Emily Mann.
This Streetcar revival, starring Blair Underwood as Stanley Kowalski, Nicole Ari Parker as Blanche, Daphne Ruban-Vega as Stella Kowalski and Wood Harris as Mitch is unlike any production of Streetcar I have seen (and I have seen many including the film starring Marlon Brando) for its truth and its spot on honesty of interpretation. I can only attribute this to the superb acting by the leads and the rest of the cast, melded with Emily Mann's directorial skill in how she has teased out their finest talents with the right mix of inspiration, encouragement and hold back. The production is like an anointed chef's dream dish fit for royalty. And it is served up nightly at the Broadhurst Theater; it is a gorgeous, delicious New Orleans' gumbo that will make you want to go back for seconds and another night of greatness because you cannot believe what you have tasted is so shatteringly good.
Simply stated, the actors live onstage. There is no playing for the result, no lack of focus, no let down with any member of the cast. All complete the whole in revealing the scrappy existence of Williams' tragically flawed and damaged characters who people a seedy world and struggle to claw their way to the next day despite their cruelties, especially to themselves.
Parker's Blanche is riveting, tremulous, teetering toward cataclysmic breakage, a delicate figurine, beautiful and heroic, damned and soul darkened as she seeks some light of hope only finding crushing despair. She is the principle shade (ghost-ghoul) in this haunted land (Stanley's and Stella's place) that she christens Weir, a reference to one of Edgar Allan Poe's macabre, creepy settings. In that pronouncement, Parker-Blanche forecasts her doom. And as we watch the declension and each heart wrenching twist downward, we see the necessity of her self-destruction. She pronounces Stanley her executioner then hurtles herself toward a violent soul-death in the most aptly directed/interpreted scene of devastation when Stanley rapes her to annihilate what he knows is loathsome in himself but hopelessly cannot ever change so he glories in it.Continued on the next page