Written by LAX Blogger Rachel Park
Let me start off my first post by saying that I’m a big fan of the LAX Festival. Having both attended and helped out in previous years, for me it stands as a monument to experimental performance in LA and succeeds in doing what I have seen many production companies in many cities try to do—push boundaries, subvert expectations, and awaken audiences to their own preconceived notions of theatrical conventions. This being said, I am also a lover of Tennessee Williams, one of those southern nuts who likens him to Shakespeare and holds his plays to be precious, poetic works of genius.
SO, when I heard that Live Arts Exchange Festival would be producing A Streetcar Named Desire, I was both excited and scared. I knew I wouldn’t be walking into your typical production of the iconic play, and so I prepared myself to be both confronted and challenged. I was. Zoe Aja Moore’s Streetcar isn’t so much about the play as you might remember it, but more the play as you experience it through a modern lens, as you feel it in a Bootleg made claustrophobic, audience surrounding the four stellar actors cast respectively in their main roles, on a stage where the walls have been stripped away.
From the outset, the physicality of the piece establishes a focus on the raw sexuality that drives the characters in this world. Mikaal Sulaiman’s relentless sound design helps to fill the space and propel the action, occasionally thrusting us back into the present day with modern songs and invasive club beats. Onstage, the characters we meet feel at once distant and extremely relatable. The heat and history between them is palpable, and Andrea LeBlanc’s superb Blanche DuBois swirls among the group, disrupting the everyday and searching for connection or acceptance anywhere she can get it.
I’m still stewing in what I saw last night, questioning context and action, but I’m pretty sure that’s right where I should be. It isn’t an easy play, and it shouldn’t provide its audience with easy answers or even resolution necessarily. What it should do, is make us question and feel, and LAX’s production does just that. Go see it before it closes on October 25th, and then come find me at the Live Arts Hangover so we can talk about it.