By Melissa Dognazzi
It couldn’t have been a more perfect storm for the 4th Wall Stage Company, hearing a Stanley Kowalski infamously cry out for Stella on a rainy Friday night at the Hanover Theatre in Worcester, Massachusetts. The evening’s feature, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, was an invigorating experience for all attendees, and certainly another successful performance for the company’s books.
The 4th Wall Stage Company, originating from the small town of Whitinsville, has been a growing sensation since their debut in December 2010. Summoning local artists, their theatrical productions have since become a prominent name in the Worcester County area. As they enter their fourth season, the company prides themselves on their focus of the connection between artists and audience. This is explained in their mission statement: “By providing roles to our actors and actresses, which are compelling and rewarding, [they can] as artists explore ideas and emotions which speak to our common humanity.”
Williams’ Streetcar illustrates the dynamic of a New Orleans family as they tackle the struggles of living in a city post-World War II. The most renowned production of the dramatic classic is the 1951 film adaptation, starring Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski. With such a tough act to follow, 4th Wall’s Sean Stanco portrays the role of Stella’s brutish “Polack” husband remarkably well. Female lead Briana Gardell is the tolerant and passionate wife, Stella. And what would the show be without Blanche DuBois, credited to actress Jourdan Spruill.
The classic drama poses a cultural juxtaposition in which Blanche, the queen of grandeur, arrives desperate to her sister Stella’s residence in the steamy jazz hotspot of New Orleans. As trumpeted Blues music continuously fills the air, Blanche loses herself amongst the love-hungry devotion saturating the small, two-room apartment.
Blanche, being the warm-hearted soul that never settles for anything less than deserved, sets out to rescue her “little” sister from this love. Stella doesn’t respond well to this rescue as she doesn’t desire to leave, but to love. Serving as the catalyst of the action, tensions elevate as Stanley rises to the suspicion of his ever-lying – and utterly vain – sister-in-law.
Among the many notable highs of the show, Stanco and Gardell create the undeniable chemistry of Stanley and Stella. Spruill successfully parallels this relationship through her choice of aura, creating the pressured environment that eventually leads to her character’s mental demise. The intimacy seen through all characters on the Hanover’s stage created the cultural atmosphere necessary to understand the play’s objective.
The tensions between actors are organic, portraying a small family deep in distress. As the plot deepens the unraveling of family relations is shown through the use of transformation. The characters’ transformations flourish, illuminating the loss of vitality and love capable in the real.
The minor character’s talents do not go unnoticed as they continuously heighten the humor and critical awareness of the show, presenting a thematic insight the playwright intends.
The performance ends with a clearly depicted caution for the audience: how susceptible the world and its everyday people are to succumbing to desire. Emotionally enhanced but driven through reality, the 4th Wall Stage Company is able to shed light on the cultural and global impact such desires effect.
Be sure to catch one of the last three noteworthy shows on April 17 or 18 at 7:30 p.m., or the matinee on April 19 at 2:30 p.m. at Alternatives in Whitinsville, Massachusetts. Tickets are available for general admission for $25 and $22 for Seniors ages 65+ and students 22 and under.
From the mouth of Blanche DuBois: “…An hour isn’t just an hour – but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands.” Go enjoy two and a half hours and expect nothing less.