Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

A Streetcar Named Desire
Arden Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Katharine Powell and Akeem Davis
Photo by Wide Eyed Studios
The Arden Theatre Company's production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire was originally slated for March 2020. One preview performance was held before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the company. On Wednesday that production finally got its opening night.

Director Terrence J. Nolen's deliciously nuanced, beautifully staged, rage-inducing production does not disappoint. The impressive ensemble brings authenticity to Williams' classic work. Paige Hathaway's clever scenic design draws the audience into the oppressive heat and uncomfortably tight quarters of the Kowalski's home. Ann G. Wrightson's dynamic lighting design and original musical interludes by Daniel Ison set an appropriately ominous tone.

Fading Southern belle Blanche DuBois comes to stay with her younger sister Stella. Blanche immediately dismisses Stella's husband Stanley as a less-than-human brute who is not good enough for her baby sister. Stanley finds Blanche unbearably pretentious and suspects she is trying to swindle Stella. Despite Stella's earnest attempts to calm tensions, Stanley remains relentless in his attempts to bring down Blanche's aristocratic façade. In the sweltering heat and cramped quarters of the one-room flat, their mutual disdain morphs into something more toxic. At its essence, Streetcar is about what happens to people when they have no good choices left.

Katharine Powell stars as Blanche, Emilie Krause is Stella, and Matteo Scammell plays Stanley. The trio has powerful chemistry. Under Nolan's direction, all three actors bring complexity and richness to Williams' characters. Matteo convincingly delivers the macho bravado and limitless self-importance we've come to expect from Stanley Kowalski, but he wisely roots that attitude in visible frustration and a clear sense of inadequacy. When Stanley overhears Blanche criticizing him in front of Stella, he initially appears more hurt than angry. When he warns Blanche not to call him a Polak, there is real sadness behind his contempt. Krause plays Stella with quiet strength and practical wisdom. Not merely a doe-eyed fool, Krause's Stella seems to have good insight into the dynamics playing out around her. Katherine Powell's Blanche is visibly beaten down by her losses, every facet of her personality merely a shield she has crafted to protect herself. Powell's interpretation is spectacular.

Akeem Davis is tragically charming as Mitch, and Taysha Marie Canales plays Eunice with endearing gusto.

Although it opened on Broadway in 1947, this Streetcar feels quite relevant, perhaps because we have all spent time suffering the claustrophobia of shared living spaces and increasingly limited options, or because the dire effects of economic and gender inequality loom as large in America today as they did more than 70 years ago. Or, perhaps it is simply because most of us know exactly what it feels like to be trapped.

A Streetcar Named Desire runs through February 13, 2022, at the Arden Theatre, 40 N. Second St., Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, visit or call 215-922-1122. Mask and vaccine proof required.

Taysha Marie Canales (Eunice Hubbell)
Akeem Davis (Harold Mitchell - Mitch)
Walter DeShields (Steve Hubbell)
Giacomo Fizzano (Young Collector)
Joilet Harris (Neighbor/Strange Woman - Nurse)
Emilie Krause (Stella Kowalski)
Brian McCann (Doctor)
Katharine Powell (Blanche DuBois)
Victor Rodriguez, Jr. (Pablo Gonzales)
Matteo Scammell (Stanley Kowalski)

Director: Terrence J. Nolen
Scenic Design: Paige Hathaway
Costume Design: Olivera Gajic
Lighting Design: Ann Wrightson
Sound Design: Daniel Ison
Stage Manager: Kate Nelson
Fight Director: Ian Rose
Dialect Consultant: Matthew Hultgren