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The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

The Student News Site of California State University, Stanislaus

Signal

Modern “Streetcar” is definitely worth a ride

Last Friday and Saturday at the Mainstage Theatre, the Naked Navigation Theatre Collective put on a modern retelling of Tennessee Williams’s “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
Although changing a classic is always risky, director Dana Martin presented the tale in a consistently visceral and relevant way.
“This is the first time we’ve worked with them, and from what I‘ve seen, they’re an awesome group of people,” Danielle Spain (senior, Theatre) said. “It was an awesome chance to get to work with them, and it’s an awesome opportunity.”
The show retained its New Orleans setting, and the stage was designed as aptly undesirable; the mismatched props, cabinets and old blankets gave the scene a feeling of proper squalor. The stage was also set with gauzy rags on clotheslines, partitioning the small and cluttered flat on Elysian Fields Avenue.
A clean score by Tom Stillwagon gave “Streetcar” much of its modern feel, and the voluptuous Stella, made famous by Marlon Brando’s melodramatic 1951 delivery, wore anything from mid-thigh shorts to a cheap silky nightgown.
Some changes were less than welcome, however. Several of Williams’s monologues were missing, and much of the dialogue felt lifeless in its delivery. Michelle Petro, playing Eunice Hubble, made the production seem somewhat more amateur, delivering her lines with the absolute bare minimum of feeling.
Although the group was playing their last show for an audience of college students, many of the playgoers I interviewed had no experience with the classic play.
“I was a little apprehensive going in, having looked online for the basic plot,” CJ Chaney (junior, English) said.
“I knew the subject matter was serious, so it made me feel as expected. I felt Blanche’s anxiety, Stella’s conflicted emotions, and in response to Stanley’s anger and controlling way, I felt […] a sense of dread.”
Kenric Green’s Stanley Kowalski was certainly a sight to behold. He was a prowling and collectedly vicious powerhouse of emotion, delivering lines such as “every man’s a king – and I’m the king around here” with admirably bold and electric conviction.
Often in opposition of Stanley was Blanche Dubois, played by Melita Ann Sagar. A power player herself, Blanche displayed her supposed frailty and susceptibility in order to manipulate those in her life. Sagar is able to convey this with a flawless grace, a whore-turned-Madonna as she shifts her affections from an unsuspecting newsboy to her beau Mitch in a matter of minutes.
“Blanche’s closing line [was my favorite part],” said Chaney of the line. “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers. [It] gave the audience a glimpse of the Blanche we met in the beginning.”
The Naked Navigation Theatre Collective breathed new life into a violent American classic. “A Streetcar Named Desire,” by Tennessee Williams, has proved itself a timeless gem, especially with Dana Martin’s unique directing.
“I had never read it, I’d never seen it, and so this is my first time experiencing it,” Spain said.
“And it was good. It was very good.”

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Modern “Streetcar” is definitely worth a ride