A hot Southern summer makes for a sizzling story about family, fortune and frazzled emotions in Tennessee Williams' 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire,"" which opened last weekend at University Theatre.
The show, which stars four UW theatre students and is directed by UW theatre professor Norma Saldivar, is well done and would likely make Williams proud with its faithful interpretation of the text and overall performance.
The first curtain opens on a scorching summer day in the French Quarter of New Orleans shortly after the end of the Second World War. Blanche DuBois (Stephanie Monday) enters and immediately looks out of place in her fancy clothes. Her apprehensive manner, as she approaches an apartment that belongs to her sister, Stella (Clare Haden), foreshadows her future psychological problems.
When Stella agrees to let Blanche move in, the tension between Stella's simple life and Blanche's desire for luxury is immediately apparent.
The play goes on through the summer as Blanche overstays her welcome with Stella and her husband Stanley. Blanche and Stanley almost constantly argue, as Blanche is blunt about her distaste for Stanley and starts a romance with Stanley's best friend Mitch. Blanche's mental illness becomes obvious and continues to worsen throughout the play, and the tension in the apartment grows until the dramatic conclusion.
All of the students involved beautifully developed and delivered their characters.
Mitch, played by Steve Wojtas, captures a sensitivity and vulnerability not present in the other strong Southern men. Likewise, David Wilson-Brown delivers a strong, sometimes breathtaking performance, portraying Stanley's rollercoaster of emotions.
Clare Haden's performance as Stella is nearly flawless as she persistently defends her lifestyle to Blanche. Stephanie Monday delivers a strong portrayal of Blanche as well, considering the complexity of the role. With passionate and well-acted monologues, Monday captures the high emotional stakes of Blanche's situation, while existing in the sometimes contrived reality of
Blanche's mind. The performances by the four, though relatively short, were all executed memorably.
The set, designed by Kenneth R. George, was well designed. The apartment was outlined by run-down buildings with summer flowers in full bloom. The interior of the apartment looked old and decrepit, with the two rooms separated by an imaginary wall and sheer curtains to capture the lack of privacy Blanche complains about so often.
The costuming was amazing as well. Costume designer Maggie Foss juxtaposes the supposed luxury of Blanche's life with the meek earnings of Stanley and Stella by having Blanche wear extravagant gowns and hats while Stella dresses more modestly.
The play runs nearly three hours, but it is well worth your time. Everyone involved in the production helps craft a great play with true Southern style.