Writer: Tennessee Williams
Director: Chelsea Walker
Reviewer: Molly Richardson
This bold revival of Tennessee Williams’ classic play A Streetcar Named Desire is full of fire. One summer, the anxious boozer, yet fiercely clever seductress and glamour-queen, Blanche DuBois turns up unexpectedly at her sister Stella’s two-roomed house in a state of desperation as she tries to hold her life together.
This gives her sisters other-half, Stanley Kowalski, a shock to his system as his philosophy is that “every man is a king” – but DuBois’ arrival threatens all that he’s ever known, meaning tensions soon rise and relationship pressures build.
Considering the original play first premiered in 1947, it’s rather alarming that so many of the themes are still relevant in today’s society – perhaps even more-so than ever. There are strong portrayals of mental health, abuse, power, violence and desire throughout, but it’s portrayed with such finesse by the cast, that the audience are in the palm of their hands with every minute, and the fact it’s sadly still relevant is why this revival is a sure winner.
A couple of scenes are so painfully realistic, that it makes for uncomfortable viewing – Delving deeper into the text, it also portrays what it means to be an outsider, where there’s a desire to fit in and to be adored. The character of Blanche is so rich and layered, that you are wholeheartedly on the journey with her. The first act is much clearer in storyline, but the chaos that occurs in act two is deeply gripping.
Barely away from the stage, Kelly Gough’s take on the iconic Blanche is a master class to watch. She pulls you into the story with ease and you feel every emotion – she is a desperate, lonesome and broken woman obsessed by vanity doing her best to get fixed. Her movement and expression captures the complexity of this incredible character so perfectly, and I think it’s a performance that will stick with me for some time, with all the right reasons.
Amber James allows you to feel Stella’s care and protection towards her sister from the start and its clear she only ever wants what is best and for everyone to be happy. Stanley is a cold-hearted, abusive and controlling man – and Patrick Knowles does a brilliant job in ensuring he’s a man to despise.
The awkward but sweet and sincere Mitch captured the heart of the audience thanks to Dexter Flanders. Maria Louise as the bouncy and fun-loving Eunice was equally joyful.
Designer Georgia Lowe, Lighting Designer Lee Curran and Sound Designer Giles Thomas alongside the entire creative team deserve a hearty applause for the visuals and aesthetics of this show. Their clever combination gives a classic play an injection of the 21stcentury, but without losing its heart and traditions. It’s an absolute treat.
Overall, this dark drama certainly isn’t the easiest of viewings, however, it’s definitely an important one as there is something everyone can relate to within this timeless classic.
Runs until 28 April 2018 | Image: The Other Richard