EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the May 12, 2016 Wall Street Journal Review of A Streetcar Named Desire By Terry Teachout
Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre is presenting Tennessee Williams’s best-known play in rotating repertory with Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” You may not realize how unusual this is: It is now possible, for what is by all accounts the first time, to see live performances of the two most influential American plays of the postwar era performed by the same cast on the same stage on the same day. That’s big news, and good news.
Like Vincent M. Lancisi, whose exceptional “Salesman” I reviewed last week, Derek Goldman has given us a production that sticks to the Gospel According to Elia Kazan, whose 1951 film of “Streetcar” was no less closely based on his Broadway staging. The time is 1947, the place a sordid-looking two-room railroad flat in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the characters are all pretty much as you remember them: Blanche DuBois (Beth Hylton) is a flirty, fluttery Southern belle who isn’t as young as she used to be, and Stanley (Danny Gavigan) is a working-class brute to whose physical charms Stella (Megan Anderson), his wife and Blanche’s sister, is in thrall. You’ll know your way, too, around Daniel Ettinger’s set, which recalls the not-quite-realistic tenement that Jo Mielziner conjured up for Kazan.
The tone, in short, is one of poetically heightened naturalism, and it is well suited to Williams’s purpose, which is to show how a person who refuses, like Blanche, to accept the irresistible claims of what William Blake called “the lineaments of Gratified Desire” must inevitably be destroyed by the resulting fissure in her soul. If you’ve never seen “Streetcar,” you’ll come away from this version knowing exactly what the play is about, and you’ll succumb with dark joy to its musky hot-weather spell—and to the acting of the fine cast. I especially liked Ms. Anderson’s straight-from-the-pelvis performance: You won’t have any trouble figuring out what she sees in Stanley.
The strengths of the production outweigh its occasional flaws, as does the fact that it’s running in repertory with “Death of a Salesman.” It’s easy to spot the differences between the two plays, but to see them performed in close succession underscores their commonality: Blanche, like Willy Loman, is the negation of the American dream, a woman who has pursued happiness in the wrong way and must now pay a fearful price for her mistake. The overused phrase “once in a lifetime” rarely stands up to more than casual scrutiny, but this is one of those rarer-than-rare occasions on which it is nothing more than the truth. It will likely be a long, long time before you get another chance to see “Streetcar” and “Salesman” done this way. Don’t pass it up.