I've seen various productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire" over the years, but Beth Glover brings Blanche DuBois to life like no actor I've seen before in Pendragon Theatre's production of the Tennessee Williams classic.
It's not just the authentic accent, and the fact that she is from Hattiesburg, Miss., five minutes from Laurel and Belle Reve, where Blanche and her sister Stella grew up.
Every inch of her body believes it is the body of Blanche DuBois, the woman who is forced to move into a two-room New Orleans apartment with her pregnant sister and Stella's drunk, abusive husband, after watching the rest of their family die one by one and losing the family home.
Josh Luteran, playing Stanley Kowalski, leans over Beth Glover, playing Blanche Dubois, in Pendragon Theatre’s production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The show runs tonight and wraps up with three performances next week.
(Enterprise photo — Jessica Collier)
Her shaking hand whenever she pours a drink and her constant, deep sighs show that she is still racked with the guilt of her husband's death when they were both teens. She tries to push it out of her mind, but the "Varsouviana" is still playing over and over in her head.
The rest of the cast is wonderful as well. Josh Luteran, new to the Pendragon stage after spending the last few years in Los Angeles, plays Stanley Kowalski with a cunning and wit that is sometimes lost on the character. He's not an idiot - he quotes politicians and knows legal terms like the Napoleonic Code. He just doesn't care about things like table manners. He's an animal, as Blanche calls him, and Luteran seems to embody the wolf as the character's spirit animal, stalking his prey and howling at the moon with his friends when he's drinking and playing poker.
Mackenzie Barmen's Stella works well - she's got that innocent-but-not-so-innocent thing down - and gosh, you just feel so bad for Mitch, played by Chris McGovern. The last time I saw McGovern, he was playing a strong South Pole explorer in "Terra Nova," and he seems effortless in making the switch to a shy, fidgety, middle-aged man who lives with his dying mother.
The set, designed by Tijana Bjelajac, is cluttered with mismatched, worn furniture and clothes and other debris draped and thrown about, making us feel just as claustrophobic as Blanche does with the lack of privacy in such a tiny apartment. Kent Streed's costumes do a good job of drawing the line between Blanche's finery and the "common"-ness of the French Quarter, putting Stella somewhere in the middle as a Southern belle transplant.
I've seen so many productions of "Streetcar" over the years that it was refreshing to attend this performance with a friend who had never seen it before. He was shocked by how violent it gets, something I had started to take for granted. This certainly isn't a show for children, but we were both entertained, and I think most other adults would be, too, as long as they can stand the strong sexual themes and violence.
There are only four performances of "Streetcar" left: tonight and next Tuesday through Thursday, with each show at 8 p.m. For more information, go to www.pendragontheatre.org or call 518-891-1854.