Tennessee Williams is a legend. He won a Pulitzer for A Streetcar Named Desire. Homage has been paid to its infamous lines and its notorious characters throughout pop culture. Some would argue that it’s his greatest play. So does that mean the brilliant script, rich in dialogue and character, will always produce a brilliant production? I’m afraid not. Such is the case in the newest revival of A Streetcar Named Desire. So what works in this production? Very little. Let’s start with the positive.
Blanche DuBois is synonymous as being one of the most coveted roles for any actress. She’s filled with struggle and pain and heartbreak and conflict and a truly great actress can do wonders with the role. At first, Nicole Ari Parker seemed disconnected with Blanche but as the play progressed, she made Blanche rise from the mess that was the rest of the production. Parker, with her stunning appearance and captivating eyes, brought some sex appeal to Blanche. By the end of the play when she’s being taken away, you felt for her, hoping there was a chance for escape. Which is not something you felt for any other lead character in the production. Parker took command of the stage and will hopefully be remembered as a great Blanche despite the lukewarm production. The other highlight amongst the ensemble was Amelia Campbell as Eunice. Yes, that’s right. Eunice. Campbell made Eunice a more memorable character. Her take on Eunice made you wish that there was a spinoff written for her whacky neighbor. And that is about the extent of the positive.
It’s regrettable that this production didn’t live up to the glory that is A Streetcar Named Desire. Sure the revival that the Roundabout did a few years back didn’t get the critical claim it may have deserved, but it sure beats this one. Maybe it’s a sign to future producers that it can be too soon to revive a play or musical. Let it breath.