In today’s Wall Street Journal I file the second of two reports from Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre, which is currently presenting Death of a Salesman and A Streetcar Named Desire in rotating repertory. Here’s an excerpt.
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Baltimore’s Everyman Theatre is presenting Tennessee Williams’ best-known play in rotating repertory with Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman.” You may not realize how unusual this is: It is now possible for what is by all accounts the first time to see live performances of the two most influential American plays of the postwar era performed by the same cast on the same stage on the same day. That’s big news, and good news.
Like Vincent M. Lancisi, whose exceptional “Salesman” I reviewed last week, Derek Goldman has given us a production that sticks to the Gospel According to Elia Kazan, whose 1951 film of “Streetcar” was no less closely based on his Broadway staging. The time is 1947, the place a sordid-looking two-room railroad flat in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and the characters are all pretty much as you remember them: Blanche DuBois (Beth Hylton) is a flirty, fluttery southern belle who isn’t as young as she used to be, and Stanley (Danny Gavigan) is a working-class brute to whose physical charms Stella (Megan Anderson), his wife and Blanche’s sister, is in thrall. You’ll know your way, too, around Daniel Ettinger’s set, which recalls the not-quite-realistic tenement that Jo Mielziner conjured up for Kazan….
If you’ve never seen “Streetcar,” you’ll come away from this version knowing exactly what the play is about, and you’ll succumb with dark joy to its musky hot-weather spell—and to the acting of the fine cast….
The strengths of the production outweigh its occasional flaws, as does the fact that it’s running in repertory with “Death of a Salesman.” It’s easy to spot the differences between the two plays, but to see them performed in close succession underscores their commonality: Blanche, like Willy Loman, is the negation of the American dream, a woman who has pursued happiness in the wrong way and must now pay a fearful price for her mistake. The overused phrase “once in a lifetime” rarely stands up to more than casual scrutiny, but this is one of those rarer-than-rare occasions on which it is nothing more than the truth….
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Read the whole thing here.
To read last week’s review of Death of a Salesman, go here.
The theatrical trailer for Elia Kazan’s 1951 film of A Streetcar Named Desire: