Friday, June 21, 2024



Written by Tennessee Williams

Directed by Anne Somes

A Free Rain Theatre Production

ACT Hub Theatre, Kingston to 29 June


Reviewed by Len Power 20 June 2024


Tennessee Williams’ ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a play with a now legendary reputation. A schoolteacher, Blanche, arrives in New Orleans to stay with her sister, Stella, and her husband, Stanley, a tough, loud and down to earth man. Blanche’s airs and attitudes, reminiscent of an outdated Deep South etiquette, and her murky past aggravate Stanley to the point where an explosion is inevitable.

First opening on Broadway in 1947 and filmed successfully in 1951, Tennessee Williams created in Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski two of the most iconic roles in modern theatre. Actors given the opportunity to play those roles would understandably feel intimidated by the succession of famed performances of the past that still live in people’s memory.

Amy Kowalczuk as Blanche DuBois

As Blanche, Amy Kowalczuk establishes an immediate presence as Blanche and maintains it throughout the play. Her version of the character comes from deep within. There’s no playing of surface nervousness, she lives the role. Her vocal performance has a depth that cleverly gives unstated clues to this complex woman.  The thoughtful building of layers of complexity in her character leads ultimately to a mental collapse that is believable, pathetic and tragic. This is an extraordinary performance that is a success on all levels.

Alex Hoskison as Stanley Kowalski

Alex Hoskison has the physical presence for Stanley and plays him with a brute force that is genuinely frightening. At the same time, he gives an innocence to the character which is strangely endearing. His interaction with his wife, Stella, is charged with an animal sexuality but he is also as needy as a child. In his reaction to Blanche, his portrayal of a man used to be the king of his domain and coming out fighting when that is threatened, is cleverly realized. Hoskison’s performance is powerful, unique and vital.

Meaghan Stewart as Stella Kowalski and Alex Hoskison as Stanley Kowalski

As Blanche’s sister, Stella, Meaghan Stewart gives arguably her best performance to date. She displays an unexpected vulnerability in her role and shows a clear understanding of the love of a woman for a man who treats her badly. As Mitch, Stanley’s friend who courts Blanche, Lachlan Ruffy finds an appealing tenderness in his scenes with Blanche that is at odds with his rougher behaviour with Stanley and his card-playing friends.

There is good work in the smaller roles of this large company. Sarah Hull is particularly fine as Eunice, an upstairs neighbour, and the card-playing ensemble successfully create the sights and sounds of a group of rough men. David Bennett is an effective presence as the doctor at the end of the play.

Anne Somes has staged the show simply with a practical, plain setting of the living areas of an ordinary working-class home in New Orleans. She has ensured the actors find the necessary depth in their characterizations. Atmosphere is provided with a good selection of music and sounds by Neville Pye.

Free Rain’s ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a rare opportunity to see a fine production of this extraordinary play with actors giving memorable performances. It is not to be missed.


Photos by Jane Duong

Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at