NTLive: A Streetcar Named Desire

NTLive: A Streetcar Named Desire

I should have posted this ages ago. But … reasons.


I was supposed to read A Streetcar Named Desire during my second year of university. I didn’t. I thought I knew it. Like a lot of popular culture references, it was an episode of The Simpsons so I thought I got it. You when Marge plays Blanche DuBois and she goes mad and there’s a laser light show. Rather than blue haired mother of three, playing Blanche was Gillian Anderson. When I told people this they would nod and say ‘oh, wow’. It wasn’t until I googled her when I got home that I realised who she was.


Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece is timeless as evident by Magda Willi’s design. The set itself is minimal, but it rotates. Literally and metaphorically, the arrival of Blanche DuBois sends everything into a spiral. The set circles throughout the whole play which proved difficult for the cameras (surprise, surprise, it was a NTLive). But I liked it; you want to peer around the pillars and doors as if you were a nosy neighbour.


Being a British production, I assumed all the actors were British. I was wrong as you know because you probably recognised the name. I did not. She’s Scully from The X-Files! Scully! Also of the Scully Box, a platform for actors to stand on to combat height differences, she’s only 5′ 3″, bless her. We have Ben Foster as Stanley, to quote Bruce Springsteen, also born in the USA. Vanessa Kirby is the only Brit, playing Blanche’s long suffering sister, Stella.


This production was phenomenal, raw in its emotion, it left me in tears. Directed by Benedict Andrews, he puts his foot on the throttle and doesn’t let up. There is no subtle in the Kowalski household and certainly not in the affairs of Miss DuBois. Anderson, Foster and Kirby gave unforgettable performances. I was at the edge of my seat, clueless as to what would happen next. I didn’t want to believe Stanley, I wanted feel sorry for Blanche. Then there’s poor Stella. Tragedy doesn’t just befall kings and great men, nor is it in the hands of the gods. People make bad decisions and those decisions bite us in the arse. William’s play is a timeless arse biter.


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