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Monday September 01, 2014
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A Streetcar Named Desire

 

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then making love to them in silk pajamas (that's men wearing the pajamas, not women), and hatchet-faced medics arriving at the door bearing straitjackets. Or you can try to see it as an allegory about the gorgeous fading twilight of the corrupt and seductive South, as serious-minded theatergoers used to do.

But today it seems a fresh and supple script because of the fervent point that Williams liked to make about women: in many of his plays, certainly this one, women end up being undone by their sexuality, unless they manage to stifle or channel it. Williams was probably speaking silently for gay men as well. (And even not so silently. As many times as I've seen the play, I had forgotten that buried in an otherwise unnecessary revelation toward the end there is the parallel story of the even earlier tragic takedown of young Blanche DuBois's homosexual husband.)

The Purple Rose production of Streetcar is sublime. Michelle Mountain, a powerfully sensuous actress who wears 1940s wardrobe like a second skin, was born to play Blanche DuBois. But who knew the rest of the cast would turn in such strong and shapely performances? Matthew David, blessed with Neanderthal carnality, is a natural for Stanley Kowalski. Charlyn Swarthout's Stella is wiser and more alert than you've ever seen her before, tilting the dynamics of the uneasy threesome into a more modern emotional landscape.

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