“A Streetcar Called Desire” at Almeida – Ellen Jones, BHASVIC

The Almeida offers a raw, emotional look at mental illness, domestic violence and a societal tragedy in Rebecca Frecknall’s staging of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. In the intimate Almeida Theater, lighting is more important than ever – and that applies to this impressive production. As the antebellum Blanche DuBois recoils from the garish illuminations of 1940s New Orleans, we watch in horror as this woman unravels and begin to understand why. Patsy Ferran is an actress whose words seem to hang in the air like smoke, offering us her deepest understanding of our complex, contradictory protagonist. We wonder if it is woman or society that is so tragically broken.

In addition to Ferran, Anjana Vasan and Paul Mescal also ensure soulful, charged performances. As one would expect from the brave but submissive Stella, Vasan displays a selfless character, attempting to rescue a family from the rubble that is being handed over to her. Mescal is not only a compelling Stanley, but one we can sympathize with despite his clearly problematic demeanor. This is a production full of characters and situations that are “not black and white”. Just as Williams intended, the audience must ponder who is to blame and why Blanche suffered such a fate.

This is a production charged with themes of male violence, mental illness and of course lust. While the audience shares Stella’s shock when Stanley vandalizes her apartment, Vasan and Mescal’s impassioned performance allows us to understand Stella’s lust overcoming reason. Blanche and Stella are essentially portrayed as sisters who come together in the face of violence but are eventually torn apart by it. Nothing is clearer than Blanche’s instability in this production, and yet director Rebecca Frecknall has created a narrative that still leaves us wondering if perhaps Blanche’s reality is what we should assume, for it seems far kinder than the she is forced to flee. This is particularly evident in the sisters’ discussions of Stanley’s violence – as 21st-century viewers, we may wonder if Blanche was right all along…

Ultimately, this is a modern domestic tragedy that will leave you lingering in the depths of despair long after the curtain has fallen.

https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/23220473.a-streetcar-named-desire-almeida—ellen-jones-bhasvic/?ref=rss “A Streetcar Called Desire” at Almeida – Ellen Jones, BHASVIC

Fry Electronics Team

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