A Streetcar Named Desire
Williams’s claustrophobic classic has been lampooned and adapted so many times it’s now as much a shorthand for a certain strain of Southern experience as it is a play. Polarity opts for a faithful, straightforward revival, with whiskey nips and random acts of psychological violence intact.
As Blanche DuBois, Laura Sturm simultaneously shatters and fades, selling both camp madness and brutalized delicacy with the same aplomb. Refusing the invitation to overact Blanche’s lush, pathetically poetic language, Sturm instead handles it with a deft touch, while Mason Hill imbues his Stanley with flat mook menace and unexpected comic timing. Abigail Trabue is a decent Stella, watching agape as Stanley strips away Blanche’s lily-white pretension, and the rest of the cast nicely summons the hivelike hum of a hot New Orleans summer.
The small Polarity space emphasizes the corseting tension of three people living on top of each other, but it’s the offstage violin music of Blanche’s demons that truly unsettles. It’s an old song but still a chilling one.