As noted by the program for the Argenta Community Theatre's production of A Streetcar Named Desire, a part of the new Acansa Festival unfolding in various venues around Little Rock, Tennessee Williams' play is now 72 years old. Age doesn't always shine a favorable light on theatrical work, but Williams' drama, as demonstrated by Argenta's compelling production featuring notable local talent, perhaps speaks as strongly as it did in 1947.
The story of Blanche DuBois (played by Paige Martin Reynolds) has captivated audiences no doubt in part because of the psychological battle between four distinct characters. After all, Blanche arrives at the New Orleans apartment of her sister, Stella (Laura Grimes), on that notorious streetcar with nothing but a trunk of mortgage papers, old love letters from her dead husband and lots of unspoken emotional baggage. At the end, she leaves New Orleans headed for (Sorry, spoiler alert!) an insane asylum. In between, Blanche confronts Stella's brutish, abusive husband, Stanley Kowalski (Jason Scott Morgan) and attempts to ignite a relationship with Stanley's poker buddy, Mitch (Michael Klucher).
Directed by Ben Grimes, this Streetcar doesn't attempt to conceptually reconfigure Williams' signature work but doesn't play it completely safe either. A burst of street-band music opens Streetcar, and the lack of boundaries is notable in the production. Danny Grace's evocative set is dominated by sheer white curtains instead of walls.
Reynolds' turn as the doomed Blanche is filled with sharp moments. In the opening, Reynolds reveals her character's fragility as well as her awareness that she is fighting for her survival in New Orleans.
Additional performances will be held at 7:30 p.m. today-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the theater, 405 Main St. in North Little Rock. Information about tickets can be found by calling (501) 663-2287 or visiting acansa.org.
Metro on 09/18/2019