BWW Review: STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE at Kansas City Actors Theatre
Cinnamon Schultz embodies the role of Blanche DuBois in Kansas City Actors Theater's hauntingly beautiful production of "Streetcar Named Desire."
The play, written by Tennessee Williams, takes place in 1940's New Orleans at the cozy apartment of Stanley Kowalski (Tommy Gorrebeeck) and his wife Stella (Bree Elrod). When Stella's sister, Blanche, comes to visit, she shakes up the dynamic in the home. Blanche spins tale after tale of her and Stella's childhood plantation, of her job, and of her love life charming people into believing her-except her brother-in-law. From the beginning, Stanley is very suspicious of Blanche and takes every opportunity available to him to gourd her for more information or frazzle her already frayed nerves.
As the play goes on the truth about Blanche's tragic life is revealed story by story as her impending break down approaches all steaming from the suicide of her husband at a young age. Blanche causes trouble in her sister's marriage as Blanche finds Stanley "common" and can't understand why Stella would stay with a man quick to anger and violence-a man that leads to Blanche's demise in the eyes of her sister.
All of the actors help to make this play real and intense for the audience. Schultz plays the nervousness of Blanche with heart-wrenching sadness. The way she tries to cover up her increasing shaky hands and the way she gulps down her liquor makes the audience feel her anxiety. Gorrebeeck's angry projection and the way he throws and breaks things had several people jumping in the audience. Elrod plays Stella with a sort of defiance that keeps her from being pushed around too much by Stanley, but still has the intense desire for him that always keeps her coming back no matter how horrible he treats her. Under the direction of Sidonie Garrett, the way the actors move around the stage shows a familiarity in a way that it feels like the audience members are looking through the window to a private family moment.
The set shows the charming, but confined life, of Stella juxtaposed to Blanche's idyllic wealthy lifestyle. The sound, more specifically the constant polka music that is supposed to be playing in Blanche's head, serves as a reminder to her that she feels like she is the cause of her husband's untimely demise.
Though the play drags a bit after the second intermission when the stage crew is setting up the coming scenes, but the actors along with Garrett's help keep the audience interested and ultimately leads to a special three hours that leaves the audience feeling a little breathless.
Kansas City Actors Theatre continues its run on the City Stage inside Union Station through September 25th. Tickets are available on line or by telephone at 816-235-6222