Radical Hospitality Theater Brings Streetcar Named Desire To Salt Lake City
A Streetcar Named Desire ‘pops up’ this weekend and if you don’t get your butt in a seat by March 28, you’ll surely miss a most memorable evening. The dinner theater-in-the- round is the brainchild of a new non-profit calling themselves Radical Hospitality Theater and while the program and its director are still nascent they seem to want to shake things up in the very plain, white state of Utah.
Radical Needs More Hospitality
The Tennessee Williams’ play (made famous by Marlon Brando’s onscreen howls of “STELLLLA” in the Academy Award-winning film) is rife with adult themes from spousal abuse to rape and a swift departure from the G-Rated musicals local talent and audiences have been regularly handed over the past two decades. “The disillusion, the struggle with ego, and the lies we tell ourselves and others just trying to survive “Life.” It’s powerful. It’s earth shaking stuff, really,” Producer Tara Norton told the City Weekly. “This cast is bringing that to the table and doing this Pulitzer Prize winner and Oscar winner justice.”
While Norton’s desire to challenge audiences and talent is well-placed, her partner Yolanda Stange takes it a step further with a combative, elitist attitude that presupposes Utah audiences will naturally “fail to get it.” The chip on her shoulder must be back breaking.
The small audience at the show’s preview in a pop-up space in the Gateway Center should take offense to the lack of confidence. Although the backdrop was a canvas and a few pieces of furniture, we felt as if we were eaves-dropping on real people as they fight, they lie, they cry and they dream. Williams brings that forth with his poignant writing. We don’t need a director trying to rub our noses in it.
The Radical Hospitality Is Forced
Streetcar is not for the squeamish as my prim and proper British friend quickly discovered. The cast as a whole is terrific while Deena Marie Manzanares’ Blanche DuBois is riveting. Sila Agavale held his own in the role of Mitch, Blanche’s conflicted suitor but Aaron Adams as Stanley Kowalski is a bit too much like a cardboard Calvin Klein underwear model to be completely believable as the base, bowery boy Stanley Kowalski. Nonetheless this really is a vehicle for Manzanares.
It was Stange’s idea to make the event “dinner theater” but each course was served between scenes so it lent to awkward silences as real people moved around the room instead of the actors. We were well into the third course of JT Culinary Events/Chef J Looney’s ‘dirty noodles’ when Blanche entered. The audience didn’t know whether to clap so we stayed quiet. Weird. The continual morphing from moment to moment was like a forced dance. I suppose the silence was appropriate; it held the tension whereas clapping would bring us out of their world but you still felt like you were wandering in some grey area.
When you come, plan to stay a while; you’re a dinner guest in the Kowalski house. The eve runs long with two short intermissions but this immersive combination of food, art and thought is exhilarating.
A Streetcar Named Desire
General Admission March 20th-22nd & 26th-28th 7:30 p.m.
Dinner Theater March 20th, 21st & 27th, 28th 7 p.m.
116 S. Rio Grande St. Salt Lake City, Ut. 84101
The Old Anthropologie Space
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET:
$110.00 – with wine/beer pairings
$ 85.00 – food only