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A CurtainUp Review
By Carey Purcell
This multi-media presentation is the work of a brother and sister team, author/director Lisa D'Amour and actor Todd D'Amour, who hail from New Orlean, the hometown of Tennessee Williams whose A Streetcar Named Desire inspired Stanley (2006). The idea of a man's obsession with Blanche combined with an examination of who Stanley was in the world of Tennessee Williams and who he would be in the world today is an intriguing one. Yet, interesting as the concept is and for all the energy and skill invested in this solo performance, the play leaves us with the question, "Why couldn't they leave well enough alone?"
Just to try to inhabit the role of Stanley Kowalski immortalized by Marlon Brando takes considerable bravery. Todd D'Amour does so with uncanny effectiveness. He speaks in a spot-on imitation of Brando, and at time morphs seamlessly into Stella and Blanche as well. Unfortunately, the show itself is confusing and chaotic.
We see D'Amour alone onstage, backed by a screen behind him on which a live tape of his performance and other images are projected. Decked out in torn jeans and a shirt ripped open, he's weary and worn but he's compelled to continue a desperate search for Blanche, often lamenting that he has to tell her something. D'Amour's performance is frantic. , at times, frighteningly so, with him writhing on the floor, clawing at the air, with indecipherable syllables erupting from his mouth. In his more calm and thoughtful moments he addresses the audience. Partly mimicking, partly mocking motivational speakers, he teaches a crash course on "How to Loose Everything and Still be A Winner." To pull in the audience he at one point invites a woman from the audience to dance with him.
The Streetcar references are quite clever but as I already mentioned, the play itself is confusing and anyone not given backround material is likely to get lost in the numerous subplots which, though interesting, aren't tied together. If you pay close attention, you'll realize that after Blanche was taken away, Stanley and Stella stayed together for some time — until his obsession with Blanche took over.( Stanley's description of his sexual encounter with Blanche is one of the play's highlights).
Stanley (2006) has enough innovative staging and acting talent to make one hope that more work to make it flow more cohesively will make it as good as it could be.