LIKE BLANCHE DuBois herself, Tennesee Williams' "A Streetcar Named Desire" has been relying on the kindness of strangers for years. The play, arguably Williams' masterpiece, is a welcome visitor anytime, but Source Theater, which did a glowing "Glass Menagerie" last year, treats this guest rather rudely.
First the performances. As the disruptive, deceptive Blanche, Connie Geis hits the right note and holds it. Geis' Blanche is no frail flower; she's brittle and vulpine, wary and hard-looking. Marty Lodge does well by Mitch, Blanche's would-be husband, whose sensitivity elevates him above the rest of Stanley's simian buddies.
But the other two crucial roles are not as ably handled. Jeff Holbrook is physically right for Stanley -- he wears his T-shirt well, with a slight softness around the middle. But his tentative reading and repeaed forced laughter won't make anyone forget Marlon Brando's sullen brute. And as Stella, Rebecca Shroyer is merely decorative and dispirited, never allowing a glimpse of what has been sacrificed or left behind.
The already lengthy drama is stretched to the point of tedium by Roger Meersman's clumsy, swollen staging. A boisterous fight results in broken glass on the floor; the next five minutes are wasted with the cast picking up the set in picturesque silhouette. This type of thing happens far too often.
Meersman must also take the blame for the undisciplined minor characters who blather on nervously (and noisily), improvising irritating stage business in the name of "atmosphere." Next time "Streetcar" rolls into town, may it have more hospitable hosts. A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE -- By Tennesee Williams. At Source Theater's Warehouse Rep through December 1.