Review: A Streetcar Named Desire

Worcester College JCR oddly seems a suitable place for a performance of A Streetcar Named Desire, with the painted panelling and ceiling to floor curtains somehow giving off the aura of a dodgy 1950’s American apartment. 

The setting also helps to create a slightly claustrophobic atmosphere that accentuates the various clashes of personality that make up the play: not the least of these being that between Stanley and Blanche, who’s opposing characters come across as almost too big for the space.  Stanley, with his loose, lolloping, animalistic movements that look as though they could lead him anywhere; and Blanche, with her deeply engraved manners and poise that have been imposed on an entirely alien environment.
Yet this sense of claustrophobia is not contained to the stage.  With some discourse taking place further forwards, up on the same level as the audience, there is an invitation for the viewer to fully immerse themselves in the action, and you begin to feel like you are a fly on the apartment wall. 

Working with such classic material, there is perhaps a lack of originality.  Blanche’s mannerisms occasionally emulate those of Vivian Leigh in the original film version so closely that it is a little unnerving.  The performance is safe, but by no means inadequate or not enjoyable.  The complicated relationship of mixed affection and miscomprehension between sisters Blanche and Stella is captured well, and there are certainly some nice touches.  For example Blanche’s wearing of gloves throughout seems to emphasise her separation, not only from the world of the other characters, but also from reality itself.
There is nothing especially ambitious about the production, but it is well done, and definitely worth a watch.

***