Volume 91, Issue 80

Thursday, February 19, 1998

warm buns


Get on the Althouse Streetcar

©Geoff Robbins
STELLA! STELLA! WHERE'S MY GREEN SHIRT? Stan (Phil Edgar) and Stella (Lil Poljasovic) Kouwalski turn up the heat and pour a round of drinks in the Althouse College production of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.

By Christina Vardanis

Gazette Staff

The scene before the curtain rose in the auditorium of Althouse College was one of typical pre-opening chaos. Light cues were checked, props were thrown about, cast members were sneaking catnaps on the set and others were taking Smoking 101 to make their character's habit believable. But as soon as places were called, the lights went up and Miss Blanche Dubois stepped off that infamous streetcar to arrive at her sister's apartment, the room transformed into New Orleans in the 1950s. For the next two and a half hours, the audience became a part of the scene – beer drinking bowlers and all.

This production of the Tennessee Williams classic, A Streetcar Named Desire, captures the tensions between both characters and lifestyles exceptionally well. As Blanche Dubois (played by Karen Glading) seeks solace in the home of her sister, Stella Kouwalski (Lil Poljasovic), it is slowly revealed that there is much more to her life then she has allowed to be known. Her torrid secrets are slowly revealed, as she descends into madness by the hands of Stella's husband, Stanley (Phil Edgar).

Directors Michelle Hull and Patricia Ditillio combine lighting, music and stage direction to accent these tensions. A live band plays the music from the local bar and also plays havoc with Blanche's mind, cueing the audience to her manic episodes. Blanche and Stella's scenes are thrown between areas of light and dark, each of them trying to find out the other's secrets, while trying to hide their own.

All of these layers within layers are especially believable with strong leads and a large supporting cast. Glading doubles as the show's producer and gives an amazing performance as the extremely complex Blanche. Her continuous anxiety filters into the viewer, to the point where her eventual downfall is a welcome relief. Poljasovic gives an equally strong performance in her portrayal of Stella and the chemistry between the two is the perfect combination of joy and frustration, which accompanies most sister relationships.

The cast's comaradery is tangible in the performance. All the supporting characters bring a new energy to the scenes and also emphasize the familiarity between weekly gatherings at The Spoke and the apparently barbaric nature of the Kouwalski's friends.

This is a tough show to take on, an even tougher show to make believable and the cast and crew of this production have conquered both of these obstacles successfully. Grab a ticket and enjoy the ride.

Streetcar Named Desire runs today through Saturday, Feb. 21-23 at 8 p.m., with tickets available at the Infosource and the Faculty of Education Students' Council office.

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998