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Our critics weigh in on local theater

A Streetcar Named Desire. Tennessee Williams' script is just as heartwrenching and provocative, sexy and sweaty in 2007 as it was for its debut in 1947. The character-driven drama is about a faded Southern belle, Blanche DuBois, who goes to live with her baby sister, Stella, and Stella's "brute" husband, Stanley Kowalski. To this day, the 60-year-old play remains a scene-work staple at most Stanislavsky Method acting programs. Being cast in A Streetcar Named Desireshould be an American stage actor's wet dream. Kamran Alexander shows real acting chops in this production; his Stanley is boorish and vulnerable, hot and frightening. Tara Donoghue (Stella) takes a character that could be a throwaway with the wrong actress, and gives her strength. She and Kamran steal the show with their electric chemistry. Barbara Michelson-Harder's Blanche, by comparison, just doesn't get there. It could have been a directing choice, but her character seems fake — indicating rather than allowing herself to become the vulnerable, trampled, and delicate woman that is Blanche DuBois. The director of Streetcarmust play the role of teacher to coax and inspire the cast to fully commit to playing parts originated by the likes of Marlon Brando and Jessica Tandy, and in this production Richard Harder succeeds on most counts. Unfortunately, Harder diverges from Williams' script at the pinnacle moment of the play, when Blanche smashes a bottle and goes for Stanley's face. The sound of that bottle cracking is Blanche cracking, and this version didn't break it at all. Yet overall, this production is a worthy tribute to an American masterpiece. Presented by Off Broadway West Theatre Company through July 28 at the Phoenix Theatre, 414 Mason St., SF. Tickets are $30. Call 800-838-3006 or visit www.offbroadwaywest.org. (N.D.) Reviewed July 18.


2 Boys in a Bed on a Cold Winter's Night
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, 620 Sutter (at Mason), 474-8800.
Aftermath of War: In their Own Words
Diego Rivera Theater/CCSF, 50 Phelan (at Judson), 239-3100.
BATS: Sunday Players
Fort Mason, Bldg. B, Marina & Buchanan, 474-6776.
Battle of the Bay Theatresports Tournament
Bayfront Theater, Fort Mason, Bldg. B (Marina & Buchanan), 474-8935.
Beach Blanket Babylon
Club Fugazi, 678 Green (at Powell), 421-4222.
Big City Improv
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
Colorstruck
Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-2049.
Ellen Klages
Book Passage, 51 Tamal Vista (at Chickasaw), Corte Madera, 927-0960.
Faultline Festival
New College, 777 Valencia (at 19th St.), 437-3465.
The Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute
Florence Gould Theater, 34th Ave. & Clement (at Palace of the Legion of Honor), 863-3330.
GayProv
Off-Market Studio, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Glengarry Glen Ross
Actors Theatre San Francisco, 855 Bush (at Taylor), 345-1287.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
New Conservatory Theatre Center, 25 Van Ness (at Market), 861-8972.
Grandpa, It's Not Fitting
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.
How We First Met
Theatre 39 at Pier 39, 2 Beach (Beach & Embarcadero).
Improv Revolution
Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Insignificant Others
Zeum Theater, 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 820-3320.
Killing My Lobster Kabaret
Make-Out Room, 3225 22nd St. (at Mission), 647-2888.
Love, Chaos & Dinner
Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 273-1620.
Man of La Mancha
SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
Marcovicci Sings Rodgers and Hart
Empire Plush Room, York Hotel, 940 Sutter (at Hyde), 885-2800.
Miss American Fido
Dark Room Theater, 2263 Mission (at 18th St.), 401-7987.
Monday Night Improv Jam
Off-Market Theater, 965 Mission (at Fifth St.), 896-6477.
Monday Night Make Em Ups
San Francisco Comedy College, 414 Mason, #705 (at Geary), 921-2051.
Monday Night Marsh
The Marsh, 1062 Valencia (at 22nd St.), 826-5750.
Murder Mystery Dinner
The Archbishop's Mansion, 1000 Fulton (at Steiner), 563-7872.
No Parole
SF Playhouse, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 677-9596.
Our Breath Is as Thin as a Hummingbird's Spine
ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), 863-9834.
Perverts Put Out
CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission (at Ninth St.), 626-2060.
Romeo and Juliet
John Hinkel Park, Southampton (between San Diego and Somerset), Berkeley, (510) 420-0813.
San Francisco Improv Festival
Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton (at Webster), 922-2049.
Schwabacher Summer Concert
Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth St. & Mission, 247-6500.
Shopping! The Musical
Shelton Theater, 533 Sutter (at Powell), 433-1226.
Studio B Summer Sampler
ODC Theater, 3153 17th St. (at Shotwell), 863-9834.
The Taming of the Shrew
Magic Theatre, Fort Mason, Bldg. D, Marina & Buchanan, 441-8822.
Tartuffe
Florence Gould Theater, 34th Ave. & Clement (at Palace of the Legion of Honor), 863-3330.
Teatro ZinZanni
Pier 29, Embarcadero (at Battery), 438-2668.
The Three Musketeers
John Hinkel Park, Southampton (between San Diego and Somerset), Berkeley, 510-655-0813.

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