Regional Reviews: Florida - West Coast
A Streetcar Named Desire is almost gothic in its depiction of the emotional breakdown of Blanche Dubois as she drags her sister Stella, brother-in-law Stanley and all their friends and associates down with her. Ideally, the play calls for nuanced acting, which Two Chairs is unable to provide. The ladies fare far better than the men in this cast. Mr. Raines has clearly prepared strongly and has helped his actors understand their characters within the framework of the play. Alana Opie does a decent job as Blanche; she clearly understands how this lady got to where she is, but can not fully engage the audience's sympathy. The emotional break down, across act two, is not shattering enough. Lauren Ward as Stella is also competent but lacking the emotional richness to make a good performance a great one. Chris Hines as Stanley offers all the physical attributes necessary, handsome looks, nice physique, strong presence, but he lacks the smoldering sexuality so essentially a part of this character. The sexual confrontation between Blanche and Stanley doesn't pack the wallop it should.
Allen Kretschmar can be very effective in the right role. My introduction to his work was as Jean Shepard in the musical A Christmas Story a few years back, but since then he has been miscast in several roles. Mitch, the object of Blanche's needs, is unfortunately another misfit. Joshua Brin and Lynne Doyle fare best as upstairs neighbors Steve and Eunice. Dylan Jones, Ren Pearson, John Forsyth and Grace Vitale fill out the cast in small roles.
Sets design by Ken Junkins is highly effective considering the obviously limited budget. I wish I could say the same for costume design by Ross Boehringer, but it looks like most of the men's attire comes from their personal wardrobes, and there are some glaringly wrong outfits. Most of the women's costuming is far more effective. Lighting design by Bill Najmy gets the job done reasonably well and props by Martha Kesler and Donna DeFant are in period.
I totally applaud Two Chairs Theater Company for their mission of presenting classic American plays. The larger-budgeted Asolo Rep has gone through four seasons and announced season five devoted to a look at "The American Character" without producing one play by Tennessee Williams or Arthur Miller. After three of Mr. Williams' most iconic plays, Mr. Raines and company will be turning their attention to Arthur Miller, intending to do "a quartet" of his plays over the next four years, which I look forward to seeing.
Two Chairs Theatre Company presents A Streetcar Named Desire through September 11, 2016, at The Players Centre for Performing Arts 838 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL. Box Office (941) 365-2494. For more information visit www.theplayers.org.
Director: Elliott Raines