COURTESY UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII
Guen Montgomery and Reb Beau Allen give winning performances as Blanche DuBois and her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, in the University of Hawaii's production of "A Streetcar Named Desire."
The rails to ruin
The cast deftly propels the tale of a flawed woman's predictable path to destruction
Mute white-masked ghosts add drama, and several colorful denizens of the French Quarter add to the entertainment value of director Lurana Donnels O'Malley's well-realized staging of "A Street Named Desire."
'A Streetcar Named Desire'
Presented by the UH-Manoa Department of Theatre and Dance
On stage: 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. Sunday
Place: Kennedy Theatre, UH-Manoa
Tickets: $16, with discounts for students, seniors, military, faculty and staff
Call: 956-7655 or visit etickethawaii.com
The ghosts creep ever closer as Blanche DuBois is forced to confront her past. The colorful residents of the neighborhood -- a prostitute, a cop, a street peddler and a bickering couple -- show by their behavior how far removed Blanche is from the genteel life she claims to represent.
Guenevere Jennifer Lynn Montgomery and Reb Beau Allen are beautifully matched in the lead roles of Blanche and her brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski. Allen is outstanding in making Stanley a sympathetic character, despite his propensity for violence. Allen and Nina Buck (Stella DuBois Kowalski) make the volatile relationship between Stanley and his wife -- an abuser and an enabler -- appear to be based more on love than on fear or dependence.
Allen also makes Stanley's suspicions about Blanche seem reasonable, rather than malicious. True, Stanley resents Blanche for believing that Stella shouldn't have married a "polock," but he also doesn't want his best friend, Harold "Mitch" Michell (Jeremy J. Dowd), involved with this woman who may have an unsavory past.
Montgomery is excellent as a tragically flawed and emotionally damaged woman who carries the keys to her destruction. Montgomery makes each of Blanche's critical missteps seem inevitable. It is a remarkable performance.
Todd Elswick (Policeman) and Mary Shirley (Prostitute) add color, as do Tiare Mata Nichols and Barry Brandt as the Kowalskis' neighbors. Libette Garcia adds to the sense of foreboding as the crippled flower seller, and Mathew Espinosa brings subtle comic undercurrents to his scene playing a teenager who catches Blanche's eye.
Joseph D. Dodd (scenic design) and Daphne Velasquez (lighting design) share credit for the sense of place created by the two-story set. Velasquez's lighting scrims do most of the work in suggesting the multi-story buildings that surround the Kowalskis' cramped apartment. Several "streets" move the action into the audience.