Review: Streetcar Named Desire, by Tennessee Williams, New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, until April 28
- Credit: Richard Davenport, The Other Richard
English Touring Theatre powerfully re creates and reimagines Tenessee William’s A Street Car Named Desire in an unmissable production that pushes and shoves the play right into the 21st Century.
Director Chelsea Walker places the women at the centre of this play, so much so we can only see Stanley Kowlakski for what he really is: a cynical, brutal abuser. The two sisters, Blanche and Stella for once actually feel related and in this sense create a complex and powerful female energy that is compelling. Stanley has to shout loudly to get our attention at all.
Kelly Gough as Blanche is exceptional casting. Her fragility is all in the mind, there’s no dreamy Vivien Leighesque floatiness here. Blanche is fully realised as physical and active, wild, sensual and earthy. A woman who is truly out of control, let down and on the edge, trapped in her misery. Her ferocity fills the stage, tempered only by her sister’s true understanding. Stanley’s toxic masculinity is amplified in this context, struggling and thuggish . As he kicks and overpowers both women when they’re down, Blanche’s line “deliberate cruelty is unforgivable” echoes around the theatre.
The set design by Georgia Lowe gives us a shell of 2 small rooms where the characters eat and have sex. Nothing happens behind closed doors or off stage but is exposed in its raw bleakness. The modernity of this production is a huge highlight. Madonna and Blondie provide the soundtrack and when Blanche spars with her demons, the paper latern of the original play, now transformed into glitter ball emphasises her fantasy : “I don’t want realism I want magic.”
This production full of energy and is fresh and exciting . The dynamism of all the central performances make this a superb production.