A Streetcar Named Desire

Malvern Theatres


This modern adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ renowned play by English Touring Theatre has brought it bang up to date in current day New Orleans.

It works well and has an eerie relevance and poignancy in light of the recent ‘Me Too’ movement  against sexual violence.

From the onset, a cleverly designed set of a box shape makes the confined interactions between brutish Stanley Kowalski, his wife Stella and her visiting sister Blanche DuBois extremely claustrophobic.

Stuck in a two-roomed flat together with brewing tensions, tempers and lies, it’s rightfully uneasy viewing, which builds slowly up to a crescendo.

Director Chelsea Walker, who won the 2017 RTST Sir Peter Hall Director Award, stamps her mark on this production with an obvious personal insight into New Orleans and a very youthful and sensual feel to the story.

It feels fresh with lovely slow motion moments or random breakouts of Blondie music and manic dancing that give an insight into Blanche’s mind.

Playing Blanche is an impressive Kelly Gough. She swaps easily between the sharp tongued southern belle and a broken woman tormented by her past.

Her striking performance also has the benefit of tremendously strong support from actors Patrick Knowles as Stanley, Amber James as Stella and Dexter Flanders as Mitch.

While scenes between Blanche and Mitch are the most tender and heart-wrenching with an air of calm, in contrast, the confrontations involving Stanley are loud and imposing.

Although I was gripped throughout the show, which is just shy of three hours, I wasn’t convinced by the way the final scene was covered - almost like a read through by the actors rather than acted out.

Co-produced with Theatr Clwyd and Nuffield Southampton Theatres, this production is rated as a 14+ due to the adult content and explicit sexual scenes.

It may be set in a different time, but this thoughtful adaptation is still the essence of what Williams created and leaves a lasting impression. Try and catch this impressive, fresh production while you can. To 14-04-18.

Alison Brinkworth


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