Streetcar Named Desire is probably one of Tennessee Williams most admired plays. It centres around an apparently wealthy woman Blanche DuBois who goes to live with her sister Stella after the family home is lost. Her working class sister (played by Vanessa Kirby) and hot-tempered husband Stanley (played by Bon Foster) live in a small apartment with only a curtain to divide up the two rooms. It is a story of one womans downward spiral and her frantic attempt to keep her life together.
Gillian Anderson (Blanche DuBois) has an army of fans that caused this show to sell out in minutes when it first went on sale. When the extension was announced, people scrambled onto the internet to try to secure tickets. I was one of the lucky ones but many missed out due to Gillians huge X Files TV show following.
The whole cast of this 3hr 15min show are great. Ben Foster is dirty, filled with anger and testosterone and leaves you kinda hoping he will throw you up against the wall. Gillian Anderson gives a strong performance as Blanche Dubois, sexy and sultry to begin with a ending up a quivering wreck with mascara running down her face. What let’s this show down is it’s seemingly clever rotating stage which ever so slowly spins throughout the entire show. Whilst this gives the audience a great view of the whole set, it does mean that at times you can’t see the actors when they are talking. With their strong Southern American accents, not being able to see their mouths means that some of what is being said gets lost. Equally, for such an intense and dramatic play, not being able to lock your eyes onto the performers for any period of time means the emotion is a little lost and you never quite feel connected to all of the characters.
Streetcar Named Desire is a good show that sadly doesn’t quite live up to the hype that has been caused. I would love to see this production performed on a normal front facing stage and not in the round as I think it has the potential to be an emotionally gruelling and intense play that could leave you feeling very satisfied. It will be interesting to see the National Theatre Live cinema broadcast of this show when it is broadcast live around the world in over 1,000 cinemas on 16 September 2014.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Streetcar Named Desire is playing at the Young Vic Theatre until 19 September 2014.