Tennessee Williams’ iconic tragic heroine, Blanche DuBois, takes to the stage again in a very inventive production of A Streetcar Named Desire by Rapture Theatre.
‘The opposite of death is desire,’ and both concepts are key themes around which the plot of this play and its characters are spun. The drama starts with the beautiful Southern belle, Blanche DuBois (Gina Isaac) who, after the loss of her family home ‘Belle Reve’ and eventually her dignity, travels from Mississippi to New Orleans to live with her sister. Unable to cope with her flamboyance in the industrial reality of New Orleans, DuBois’ hunger for passion as a means for protection causes tension and cracks in her pretty facade.
Isaac carries the role of this Southern belle on her toes, delicately moving each limb with poise while dressed in silk. All of this paints a pitiful picture of the delusional state of her character. Joseph Black accentuates vulgarity and violence in his role as the antagonistic Stanley Kowalski with a heavy build and a loud voice. While Julia Taudevin (Stella) and Kazeem Amore (Mitch) seem at ease in their roles, the audience can, at times, sense an air of discomfort that Black feels while being on stage through the acts. One can almost feel the awkwardness that Black feels whilst on stage, and see his confusion of where to place his arms throughout the performance.
The sound during the production is effective with a note held at one pitch as it slowly gets louder and hits the ears of the audience at the climax of the play as Isaac’s Blanche struggles with memories and insanity. The set of this production looks like a piece of reality broken off from the wave of post-war depression that hit America; juxtaposing the neo-classical interiors (much like those of Molière’s Comèdie Française) of the King’s Theatre.
The play does seem a little long to sit through for three hours with little action occurring, but, since the core of the play lies in the psyche of its characters, it would do an injustice to the script for the director to shorten it in any way.
While A Streetcar Named Desire is one of theatre’s classics and Isaac (DuBois) does an impressive job with the performance of her role, Michael Emans’ version of the production fails to bring something entirely different to the stage and performers such as Black seem uncomfortable in character.
Running until 7th October
Photo credit: Rapture Theatre