The play “A Streetcar Named Desire is a famous American play

Scott Anderson
ID# 2682689
Th 1001-001
April 24, 2007
Critique 2: A Streetcar Named Desire
The play “A Streetcar Named Desire is a famous American play written by
Tennessee Williams. The play takes place in the New Orleans in the 1947 and deals with a
culture clash between two symbolic characters, Blanche DuBois who is a snobby fading
Southern belle and Stanley Kowalski who is a rising blue color industrial worker. The play
begins with Blanche arriving at her sister Stella’s house. Immediately Blanche presents
herself as unstable by having multiple drinks of alcohol while making an excuse before each
drink. When Stella returns home and finds Blanche the conflict begins almost instantly.
Blanche claims her job has given her some time off to calm her nerves. Blanche displays
herself as upper class and shows her disapproval of Stella’s living situation and lifestyle
throughout the play yet has no problem accepting all generosities that Stella and Stanley offer
her. I felt annoyed by Blanche almost immediately due to my small tolerance for snobby
people and those who look down upon others. As the story continues the viewer finds that
much of what Blanche says is greatly embellished or completely made up. Her false reality is
an illusion she presents to shield herself from others and from reality. The truth is that
Blanche is completely broke and throws her aging self at most any man, single or married, in
an effort to find stability in her life. The object of her affection in New Orleans is one of
Stanley’s work and poker buddies Mitch. Mitch is much younger than her but is desired due
to his charm. Near the end Stanley finds out the truth about Blanche’s recent past and
presents her lies to both Mitch and Stella. Stanley notifies Blanche he has purchased her a
train ticket out of town and they are soon in a large quarrel that ends with Blanche being
raped. In the next scene Blanche is taken away by asylum workers and the play ends.
I thought that the play as a whole was very good. This was the first UMD theatrical
production I have viewed and I was very surprised by the professionalism. Not only the
professionalism of the actors and actresses shown through their believable presentations of
their characters but by all aspects of the production. I found the acting very believable and
the arguments and emotions presented by characters were very engaging and believable.
Initially upon entering the theater I was amazed by the complexity of the set. I am an
engineering student so I don’t get much exposure to these areas of UMD. I would imagine a
similar reaction of amazement if a theatre student walked into the engineering robotics lab or
viewed an engineer’s senior design presentation. They most likely don’t know what is going
on behind the closed doors of engineering labs either. I thought that the stage was very
believable as New Orleans in the 1940’s. The costumes were outfits that resembled the styles
of the time both of blue collar folk shown by Stanley and Stella and upper class attire as
shown by Blanche. I particularly enjoyed the sound effects and the illusion they presented
such as a streetcar passing by. The lighting was very good and emphasized the focal point of
the play while helping to present the emotions and themes of each scene. There was a
streetlight outside, a fan hanging in the kitchen with three bulbs attached and a light in the
bedroom. Candles were used in some scenes for light as well as to set the mood and represent
character emotions.
A theme of the play is illusion verses reality and is shown though the actions
of Blanche. Blanche shows a preference to illusion over reality to hide herself from her own
personal failure and inability to confront the truth. She shows her preference to fantasy by
putting a lampshade over a bare light bulb, writing fantasy letters to a Texas oil tycoon and
her abuse of alcohol. Another theme presented in the play the new South verses the old
South. Blanche represents the old South while Stanley represents the new South where
chivalry is dieing and the working class mentality is prevailing. Desire is the central theme of
the play. Blanche attempts to deny it, but we learn later in the play that desire is one of her
main motivations. Her past desires have caused her to be driven out of town due to her
relationship with a young student. Desire is also the glue of Stella and Stanley's relationship.
Desire is Blanche's greatest shortcoming because she cannot find a healthy way of dealing
with it. Another theme is loneliness shown by Blanche. She desperately seeks companionship
and protection from strangers. She has never recovered from her past tragic love for her first
The play as a whole was very good. Even though it was three hours and forty-five
minutes from start to finish including intermissions the play had no problem holding my
attention the entire time. Watching “A Streetcar Named Desire” was very enjoyable and has
influenced me to see more UMD productions in the future.