Last weekend, I had the pleasure of being witness to Rude Mechanicals’ Production of “Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams.
What I really enjoyed about this show overall was the emotional vulnerability and raw honesty, that everyone on stage brought to the production. Being unfamiliar with the story, I was blown away by how much justice that this group of performers brought to such a powerful, complicated, and difficult portrayal of human life. This wasn’t the type of show that you leave thinking “wow what a splendid show”, although it was remarkable. It’s the type of show you leave and it sticks to you, weighs on you, keeps you thinking about it long after the bows have been taken.
Juliana Tassos as Blanche Dubois. There never was more perfect casting, from her entrancing voice that transported you to another time and place to her stature that could simultaneously portray proud regality and a desperation as her façade came crumbling down. Quite simply, she shone. You could feel the almost magnetic pull between Mallory Avnet and Jack Alberts as Stella and Stanley Kowalski. You could see Mallory’s distress not only on her face but in the embodiment of her struggle between loyalty and responsibility to her husband and her sister. And Jack. I mean it in the best way when I say that he literally terrified me. As the “villain” of the show, he kept the audience captivated- trying to figure out who was good and who was evil and finally sticking the landing as a master manipulator. You could just love to hate him. Austin D’Ambrosio as Mitch as brought forth a wonderful performance. Making us love him as the one genuine nice guy in the whole show, he was a refreshing breath of fresh air in an otherwise dark plot. That is, of course, until the twist at the end. But in either case, he was wonderful to watch as the angel to so many other devils in the show. The supporting players rounded out the cast beautifully, from the haunting matron carrying flowers, to the Eunice the loud but well-meaning landlady, and the rest of the poker players making a ruckus.
Altogether, this show was a poignant but painful exploration into the lives of these characters. At the same time that you felt that you could know them intimately, you also felt that it was impossible to understand them. The cast and crew was clearly under excellent direction, keeping the audience on their toes through the ebbs and flows of the tempo of this piece. Set against the stark background of a nearly-empty apartment, you could feel the resonance of the events with full effect, bouncing bleakly off the empty walls and leaving us all dumb-founded in their wake.