A Streetcar Named Desire is another one of Tennessee Williams audacious works (along side plays such as The Glass Menagerie and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) but this production falls very short of audacious, well for a modern audience anyway. The diverse cast helps to underpin the issues of class and racial tensions still present in 21st Century society and as ever it highlights the problems with the lack of support for women who are victims of sexual assault, both back then and today. But in the small two bedroom apartment, strewn with beer bottles and 1940’s dresses there was just not a strong enough connection to a modern audience to make us actually care about the characters circumstances at all! This is domestic melodrama which works when it is highly sweaty, muscular and emotional. But this production is not ground-breaking, nor does it take an exciting spin on the text. It does it’s job, which is the minimum you can ask from professional theatre.
The cast is the saving grace of this show. Gina Issac as the infamousBlanche DuBois gives a sickening performance in such a way that although I may, as a young woman, not relate to the cause of her pain I can very much relate to the affects of it. Especially as she stumbles blind drunk through the tiny flat attempting to keep her composure as an excited Stanley Kowalski (Joseph Black) toasts to the birth of his soon to be born child. Her fragile state is all too tangible as she steadies herself on her hands and knees whilst desperately trying to telephone her forgotten college boyfriend. Our hearts are melted on more than one occasion by the loveable oaf that is Harold ‘Mitch’ Mitchell portrayed so perfectly byKazeem Tosin Amore. Some of the cast members play fast and loose with the Southern Accent which becomes cumbersome to listen to after a while but all in all a stellar performance from the whole cast. A special mention goes out to Billy Mack in the role of Steve Hubbel who’s cheeky antics had the audience tittering plenty.
It is understandable that this play is still taught in schools (evidenced by the six or seven school groups who were present in the theatre) as it is a phenomenal text. But is this kitchen sink drama really what the industry is crying out for? Are we not advancing towards new writing, writing which reflects our immediate surroundings and strives to make art which is beneficial to a modern society? A Streetcar Named Desire is not the most resonant or relevant choice to make, and as much as I can appreciate the work which has gone into this production, I cannot stave off the feeling of boredom I get from eating the same cake over and over again, but just with different coloured icing. It tastes the same, it looks the same, it feels the same. - Lucy Newbery