Archive for November 11th, 2008

A Streetcar Named Desire

This was billed as a production using modern theatrical tricks to recreate the atmosphere of a seedy quarter in New Orleans, and it only partly worked.    The theatre had a smell pumped into the auditorium which was supposed to be something like coffee and banana I think, but in fact just smelt rather nasty.    We were fairly near the front so received this at full waft.    There were some nice visual techniques, but the sound effects to accompany Blanche’s reveries needed a bit of work to make them convincing.

The set was a clever design, showing us the cramped two room apartment squalor with transparent curtains to allow projections onto them at various points in the play.    Particularly effective was the overhead shot of the poker game, and what happened to Stanley when he was manhandled off stage into the bathroom by his fellow poker players.   Also, close up footage of Stella’s and Blanche’s eyes was innovative.   I also liked the commissioned sax and piano music by John Beales – so much better than just finding some music to fit.

I had forgotten what a big play this was, and this was a pretty good stab at it, although it did not all work well.    Firstly, and there is no nice way to say this:   the accents were mostly poor – the southern states accent is very difficult to get right, and particularly so for the women.    There was no accent coach credited in the programme, and this production really needed one.    Funnily enough, Hank Williams’ daughter was speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 the following morning (they have discovered some new tapes of her father) – I rather hoped that Amanda Beveridge who played Blanche (lapsing into RP) and Kenny Blyth playing Stanley (lapsing into Scots) were listening.     Putting the accents to one side – and that is a big ask in this play – the actors worked hard under Ian Grieve’s direction to convincingly to tell the story.    And a nice Perth touch to bring on Leslie Mackie and Terry Wale at the end.   

The play is a sad tale, but has some wonderful dialogue.   There is a lot to take in.    The audience certainly enjoyed it, and I would recommend it.

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