REVIEW: A Streetcar Named Desire

Sayana Turpin-Aviram is delighted by a production which teases out the dark picture of human desire at the heart of the play

Cambridge Tab the tab Theatre

Last night I was transported to the backstreets of New Orleans from another time to witness a new production of Tennessee Williams’s disturbing masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire.

The story is a personal favourite so my expectations were high to say the least. Thankfully, the performance was a compelling one that brought forth the strange, dark picture of human desire and imperfection that lies at the heart of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Photo Credit: Johannes Hjorth

Photo Credit: Johannes Hjorth

The entire cast committed themselves to the emotional intensity and distinct mannerisms of their characters wonderfully; their immersion in their parts making each scene and the story increasingly tangible as the audience was drawn further and further in. No one wanted to miss a moment of the tensely unsettling dialogues or the explosive scenes of violence and passion.

Stella Kowalski, portrayed by Kate Marston, was believable in her affections and frustrations, holding her own as a vital, honest character despite the bold and unusual characters that surrounded the comparatively mild Stella. Her strongest moments were when the practical Stella was overcome with desire for Stanley or when she broke down with grief at seeing her sister Blanche taken away at the end.

Photo Credit: Johannes Hjorth

Photo Credit: Johannes Hjorth

One of the most dominant characters on stage was, of course, the violent and rough, yet attractive, Stanley Kowalski, played by Seth Kruger. Seth performed the difficult task of bringing a charismatic yet repellent presence to the stage well, reminding us of the domineering man’s more emotional side as he cried drunkenly for Stella and shocking everyone with his final cruelty towards Blanche.

Turning to the centre of the centre of the unsettled Kowalski household, we find Blanche, a Southern belle of a more refined time … or so she wishes herself to be. Bethan Davis did a remarkably good job of bringing the unusual Blanche to life in all her vain, neurotic glory as the strongest character and the strongest performance on stage. Bethan drew us into the delicate world of Blanche Dubois as she attempted to bring her delusions of cultural refinery and sensitive delicacy to Stella and Stanley’s rough home. Meanwhile, the signs and glimpses of dark truths in Blanche’s past and the growing cracks in her mind tantalised us with their fearful potential.

Photo Credit: Johannes Hjorth

Photo Credit: Johannes Hjorth

Mitch, acted by Max Nobel, seemed to be the only hope for Blanche with his honest caring manner. Max brought a shy, ungainly presence to the stage with some of the traits of his fellow poker players but offset by his seemingly unique sensitivity.  The moment Mitch turned on the light was a well directed dramatic turning point, symbolising the failure of all Blanche’s attempts at pretension.

Set in an unimpressive realistic home, the drama unfolded, punctuated by a recurring musical refrain that seemed to become a sign of Blanche’s growing mental disturbance that could only be ended by an inevitable shot.

I definitely recommend getting down to Corpus to see the  show, whether you are already a fan of this Tennessee Williams classic or just want to see some quality drama.  A “Stella” show.

4.5/5 stars