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BWW Review: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Roars to Life at The Arden Theatre Company

A Streetcar Named Desire plays through February 13, 2022.

BWW Review: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE Roars to Life at The Arden Theatre Company

After a long two-year wait, the Arden Theatre Company has finally brought the curtain up on its highly anticipated production of Tennessee Williams' 'A Streetcar Named Desire.' Originally slated for March 2020, the Arden's 'Streetcar' officially opened last night to a packed, masked, and vaxxed house. The energy of live theatre is something that cannot be replicated, and it was clear that both company and audience were thrilled to return to the live performance space. And what a return it was.

Time and the absence of in-person entertainment have colored the theatre-going experience with new shades of shared experience. People are grateful for the opportunity to exchange energy and art, and that was tangible all throughout the Arden's opening night performance.

Tennessee Williams' masterpiece 'A Streetcar Named Desire' has stood the test of time, and the Arden Theatre Company's production only served to further highlight the play's brilliance. The production was compelling from start to finish, every element fusing seamlessly to create a sparking tinderbox inside which Williams' characters roared to life.

'A Streetcar Named Desire' explores the tenuous line between illusion and reality, and what happens when the fragile strings of the world we create for ourselves begin to untether. When Southern Belle Blanche DuBois arrives under hazy circumstances at the French Quarter apartment of her younger sister Stella and Stella's husband Stanley, the lives of each character in the play begin to unravel.

With such a well-known work, it would be easy to fall into the trap of being influenced by performances of adaptations past. This is firmly not the case with the company of the Arden's 'Streetcar', who, while staying faithful to the piece and having a firm grip on the material, express the intricate inner lives of these characters with originality. Directed by Terrence J. Nolen, the intentions of the characters come through clearly with every line and movement, the momentum of the play guided forward with a steady urgency burning under the surface. The chemistry between each of the actors steam and simmer and roil under the ambient heat created by the outstanding scenic design by Paige Hathaway, lighting design by Ann G. Wrightson, music and sound design by Daniel Ison, and costume design by Olivera Gajic.

The audience is brought into the world of 'Streetcar' through Blanche's arrival, and thanks to Katharine Powell's performance the audience's attention remains there. Her deep Southern drawl and almost serpentine expression of Blanche's purposeful charm and mercurial nature are magnetic. She unveils Blanche's deeply held pain, traumatic past, and unattained fantasies with an open rawness. Emilie Krause gives a dynamic performance as Blanche's younger sister Stella, wonderfully navigating the minefield of Stella's relationships with Blanche and Stanley. Matteo Scammell's Stanley is explosive and expressive and moved by passion, the only character driven by his lack of illusions about his world and the people inhabiting it. Akeem Davis as Mitch is steady and compelling as Blanche's suitor and Stanley's friend, a grounding presence amongst the chaos.

The pandemic might have temporarily darkened the Arden Theatre Company's stage, but now the lights are on and brighter than ever. If you have yet to return to the world of live theatre, I would suggest making The Arden Theatre Company's production of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' your first show back.


How To Get Tickets

A Streetcar Named Desire plays January 13 through February 13, 2022. Tickets for A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE are now available for purchase online at ardentheatre.org. A digital version of this production will be available to stream February 14-27. Please go to ardentheatre.org for details.


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