It’s not the New Orleans Streetcar line named Desire—but rather, the Red Line El noisily clamoring its way through Uptown…
It’s not the discomforts of Louisiana high humidity and high temperatures—but rather the eternal sawdust and upheaval state of one of Chicago’s ubiquitous rehab projects by a would-be get rich quick real estate flipper. ..
And it’s not an older sister barging in with la-de-dah class airs that Tennessee Williams’ pen created with brilliance—but rather a Gay Iranian brother with resentment of American superpower smugness who is crashing in his super-assimilated and pregnant sister’s home.
Williams’ Stanley, husband to Stella, was none too happy to have Blanche du Bois around; Chuck (Joshua J. Volkers), husband to Soraya (Catherine Dildilian), likewise gets his full of Razi (Salar Ardebili) almost as soon as he arrives.
For those of us whose minds’ eyes involuntarily trigger to see Marlon Brando on his knees shouting “Stella!”, this double track view of Through the Elevated Line is switched on by playwright Novid Parsi’s script from the very gitgo. This is Streetcar Named Desire, with all the kick-in-the-kidneys emotional wallop of the original story. Nothing is lost in the power of this translation and update—quite the contrary. SPOILER ALERT- There is but one change in the dramatic action to give Razi both more and less agency than Williams’ Blanche du Bois. This proves to be one helluva tweak—ripping open a window into persecution of Gays in a country whose leader had declared to the world that
Iran simply doesn’t have Gay people.
Silk Road Rising Assembles Top Notch Cast
Weaving through this classic story are the rippling muscles of Chuck’s body—no stranger to physical work—and his perfume of threatened violence. Volker’s Chuck is so convincing in this role that many will likely think he steals the show. Ardebili as Razi though—whose role demands that he morph from whiner, to manipulator, to hysteric, to cynic and beyond, with each and every comma in his often long lines—more than holds his own.
Through the Elevated Line is recommended both for those who cherish Williams’ script as a well-known treasure and those who barely know its outlines, if at all. In this writer’s view, Novid Parsi’s script is absolutely superb in its own right.
Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO, where it will remain until the end of the run. Click here to read – Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.
Note: An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago
Director: Carin Silkaitis
Cast: Salar Ardebili; Catherine Dildilian, Joshua J. Volkers, Alison Plott, Schott Shimizu, Philip Winston, Armando Reyes
Thru April 15
Tuesdays 7:30 PM
Fridays 8:00 PM
Saturdays and Sundays 4:00 PM
Silk Road Rising
77 Washington Street
About the Author:
Amy Munice is Editor-in-Chief and Co-Publisher of Picture This Post. She covers books, dance, film, theater, music, museums and travel. Prior to founding Picture This Post, Amy was a freelance writer and global PR specialist for decades—writing and ghostwriting thousands of articles and promotional communications on a wide range of technical and not-so-technical topics.
Amy hopes the magazine’s click-a-picture-to-read-a-vivid-account format will nourish those ever hunting for under-discovered cultural treasures. She especially loves writing articles about travel finds, showcasing works by cultural warriors of a progressive bent, and shining a light on bold, creative strokes by fledgling artists in all genres.