THEATRE JOHN NATHAN Re­vivals that are both stylish and ‘Street’ smart

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE -

Willi’s de­sign of the cramped flat, in which the play is set, is not the Ikeatype white fur­ni­ture, nor the ab­sence of walls.

It’s rather that from the mo­ment un­in­vited vis­i­tor Blanche knocks back her brother-in-law’s whisky, the room slowly re­volves and never stops. So we view the ris­ing ten­sion be­tween Blanche and her sis­ter Stella’s tat­tooed pit-bull of a hus­band Stan­ley Kowal­ski, like nosy neigh­bours, through the run­ners of an out­side stair­way or from be­hind the bath­room’s shower cur­tain.

The sense is that ac­tors and au­di­ence are never fully at ease. Whether the play has par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fited from the 21st-cen­tury set­ting is hard to say. The same ten­sion may have been achieved if the flat was the stan­dard shad­owy abode from the 1940s. But it cer­tainly hasn’t been di­min­ished. The point of An­drews’s pro­duc­tion is that, for those liv­ing in the apart­ment, there is nowhere to hide — from each other, or from the au­di­ence.

The down­side is that some­times lines of Wil­liams’s de­li­cious di­a­logue are lost if the south­ern drawl hap­pens to be di­rected away from where you are seated.

Still, by the time An­der­son’s Blanche de­clares that she has al­ways re­lied on the kind­ness of strangers, we have come to know the haunted, vul­ner­a­ble girl be­neath the un­bear­able snob and re­alise that her lies are not de­cep­tions but merely dec­la­ra­tions of the way life should be.

Amer­i­can ac­tor Ben Fos­ter is ter­rific as the coiled Kowal­ski. So is Vanessa Kirby as his wife who, much to older sis­ter Blanche’s re­vul­sion, has hap­pily set­tled for a life that, though poor, sat­is­fies de­sire.


Ge­of­frey Streat­feild and Jonathan Broad­bent

Gillian An­der­son in Streetcar

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