Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
One of the greatest American plays.
Fading Southern belle, Blanche DuBois depends on the kindness of strangers and is adrift in the modern world.
When she arrives to stay with her sister, Stella, in a crowded, boisterous corner of New Orleans, her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella’s crude, brutish husband Stanley. Eventually their violent collision course causes Blanche’s fragile sense of identity to crumble, threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.
Free Car Parking. Cosy Bar. Great Prices.
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★
First performed on Broadway in 1947, Tennessee Williams ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is a tragedy that highlights the inequalities of society in post war America. The play particularly shares the negative effects experienced by women during this time. Associated by many as one of the most significant of all American plays, it is certainly a brave step that the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse have undertaken in performing this epic tale.
For those unfamiliar with the story, the play relays the story of Blanche Dubois (Kathryn Worthington) who arrives in New Orleans from Laurel, Mississippi having been given “a leave of absence” from her teaching role. She moves into her sister Stella’s apartment (Fiona Primrose) in the unbearable heat of New Orleans that she shares with Stella’s husband, the formidable Stanley Kowalski (Matthew Barnell). The antagonistic relationship between Blanche and Stanley from the moment she arrives in New Orleans provides the audience with a relationship that is uneasy to watch yet at the same time, extremely hard not to watch.
Kathryn Worthington must be applauded for her excellent performance as Blanche Dubois, Stella’s estranged Sister. Her portrayal of Blanche as a vulnerable woman from Mississippi, desperate to be loved and accepted by all was phenomenal. Her character crumbles as the play progresses and her fragility is heightened when finally, her sanity is questioned towards a dramatic ending. Worthington displays an almost “musical” southern states accent and her portrayal of Blanches happy go lucky, innocence versus her deep-rooted insecurities was executed to perfection.
Fiona Primrose who portrayed the part of the dutiful wife Stella Kowalski, in some ways demonstrated the hopelessness of a woman in this era. Primrose displayed the internal struggle to fight the desperation to please her husband whilst battling with her need to provide Blanche with stability, love and understanding. Primrose demonstrated clearly to the audience that she was in turmoil between her need to protect Blanche and her duty to stay married to Stanley, even when violence ensued. Primrose’s representation of the character was exemplary.
The set and staging worked very well in that it was consistent throughout. Impressive that even the bathroom which was a key reference point (and in reality, actually only showed the actors walking in and out of a door) demonstrated how well this was carried out. The various areas on stage were all meaningful to the entire play so it was a positive decision that they appeared to be fluidly utilised. The outside of the apartment of a noisy New Orleans and the inside of the apartment were closely connected which was key to the entire play.
The deterioration of Blanches mental health was also displayed by the clever use of jazz music on the set and Christine Mills on sound designed by director John Cunningham must be congratulated for this. The music continued during Blanches eventual demise but eventually the sounds were almost entirely only experienced by Blanche. It did not go unnoticed that even the sound of the doorbell on set needed to be executed to perfection.
A Streetcar named Desire is a story about types of love alongside fantasy versus the harsh reality of society. It is evident that Director John Cunningham has produced another fabulous piece of theatre and must be congratulated. It is no easy feat to produce such an iconic piece of theatre and “A Streetcar Named Desire” has given a much loved play a very positive nod. A play that is as thrilling to watch as it is uncomfortable, if you are a fan of this classic play by Tennessee Williams it is essential viewing for sure. An excellent production.
Playing until Saturday 20th November tickets available from https://www.altrinchamgarrick.co.uk/shows/a-streetcar-named-desire/
Reviewer: Angela Kelly
Reviewed: 15th November 2021
DIRECTOR John Cunningham and his cast take the audience on an emotional journey in a captivating and at times touching and deeply moving production of this American classic.
Unless you don’t have a heart, it’s impossible not to be affected by what unfolds on stage, in this absorbing piece of theatre from the pen of the great Tennessee Williams.
Watching the play is draining at times, so goodness knows what performing it must be like for a tight knit and talented cast who make it their mission to make sure not a word of the wonderful Williams dialogue isn’t wasted.
Blanche goes to stay with her sister, Stella, in the seedily seductive French quarter of New Orleans where she finds her sibling living in a dingy two bedroom flat with her husband, Stanley. It’s a strange set up because the family has known the meaning of the word ‘affluence’ in the past and mystery surrounds just what happened to the former family home.
Stanley quickly resents having Blanche around, with what he sees as her dubious past and irritating airs and graces. She compares the self-proclaimed king of his castle to an ape, branding him ‘common.’ But that really is an insult to our closest relatives.
While I was naturally repulsed by the way Stanley treats his visitor and women in general, maybe I’m being a little too 21st century about it and ignoring the fact there were and surely still are many men like him who make the lives of those around them utterly miserable.
Cunningham’s accomplished direction has drawn out fine performances from Matthew Banwell as Stanley and Kathryn Worthington and Fiona Primrose as Blanche and Stella, who evoke an authentic and endearing sisterly bond on stage.
I also liked Paul Cuddy as Mitch, one of Stanley’s poker player pals who is by far the most gentlemanly of a motley crew. Cuddy ensures you feel for Mitch as he attempts to woo Blanche as she toys with his affection.
Don’t miss this memorable production of an all American classic. Exceptional.
Star rating ****
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