Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

A Streetcar Named Desire
Shelton Theater
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's review of Stale Magnolias

Alex Alessandro Garcia and Hilary Hesse
Photo by Matt Shelton
The Shelton Theatre is presenting an interesting production of Tennessee Williams' classic A Streetcar Named Desire. This is a great challenge since it has been produced so often and is so well known that comparisons are likely. I saw the original at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre with Marlon Brando as Stanley and Jessica Tandy as Blanche. One of my first jobs in Hollywood was working as part of Harry Stradling Sr.'s cinematography crew when it was filmed at the Burbank studios with Brando repeating his role and Vivian Leigh as Blanche. Since then I have seen countless revivals in London and New York including the George Maguire production last year in Danville.

A Streetcar Named Desire centers on Blanche who is an incurable romantic, despite what fate has handed her. The drama is about the hostile relationship between Blanche and Stanley, who scorns the woman's fabrications. Most of the productions I've seen center on Blanche's neuroses.

Julie Dimas-Lockfeld directs this "in your face" production. It's raw and rowdy and devoid of jasmine perfume like others I have seen in the past. Make no mistake, it's a thought-provoking production with an interesting cast of actors. This production largely strips Streetcar of its poetry.

Alex Alessandro Garcia portrays Stanley Kowalski as a member of the Mafia rather then a Pole. He does get the brutal violence and brutal passion of the character. It's an interesting performance. Hilary Hesse gives an impressive performance as Blanche DuBois. Her voice ranges from a light nasal hum to a smoky Southern belle drawl. She fights on Stanley's terms by being loud, strident and coarse. This Blanche is absent of charm, grace and imagination. I would not put up with her for five days. She is sublime when she is with her boyfriend Mitch in that first scene in the second act, and she is sensual when she is flirting with the newspaper boy played by Jared Pati. Cara McKelvey takes a little time to get into the character of Stella. However, by the end of first act and in the second act she is in character and gives a fine portrayal. Stella gets rough treatment from Stanley who continues to knock her about.

Scott Van de Mark gives a moving performance as Mitch. Mark Bird and Nicolas Razo as Steve and Pablo, Stanley's poker playing friends, give fine performances. Ellen Smith gives pitch perfect performances as the Mexican woman and the nurse. Rounding out the cast is Larry Hall as the doctor in the last scene, in a stoical performance.

Steve Coleman has designed a full-size dining room and bedroom on the small stage of the theater that looks like a rundown apartment in New Orleans. Julie Dimas-Lockfeld has taken the fantasy out of the play. The action goes by a little too fast in the first act to establish the characters, but it gets into a groove in the second act. The rape scene between Stanley and Blanche toward the end of the drama is realistic, more so than what I have seen in prior productions.

A Streetcar Named Desire runs through October 29, 2016, on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 pm at Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco. For tickets call 415-882-9100 or visit

Privacy Policy