Street Scene

Street Scene, the Pulitzer-winning Elmer Rice epic newly revived by the hard-working crew at Girl Friday Productions, works best in the quiet moments, when the conversations and action stop on the hot asphalt and concrete outside of New York City tenements. These rare moments give the characters—and audience—a chance to breathe, reflect, and soak in the atmosphere. At other times, the sheer weight of Rice's vision and some clunky, poorly drawn characters threaten to unhinge the whole evening. In the play, dozens of lives intersect over the course of a single day on the noisy street in a neighborhood packed with poor immigrant families. Here, no one has any real privacy and there is, at best, just the hope of escape into the wide-open spaces outside of New York City. The plot turns on the Maurrant family: Mother Anna is stepping out with a local gentleman, father Frank is a drunken Irish lout, and daughter Rose dreams of getting away with a married man. The languid plot turns violent in Act Two as lives are shattered. Rice does a fine job with the atmosphere and the sudden changes that can mark anyone's life, but stumbles with characters who too often appear to be a collection of stereotypes rather than living, breathing human beings. The huge cast (26 actors in about 60 roles) does good work, especially Anna Sundberg as Rose, and Kirby Bennett as Anna, while director Craig Johnson takes what could be a jumble of action and gives it considerable grace. $20. Minneapolis Theater Garage, 711 W. Franklin Ave., Minneapolis. 612.729.1071 . Through July 30