A Streetcar Named Desire

March 19, 2015 | By | Reply More

★★★★★    Perfect balance

Festival Theatre: Wed 18 – Sat 21 March 2015

It is with elegant sophistication that A Streetcar Named Desire sweeps onto the stage at the Festival Theatre this week. But Scottish Ballet delivers so much more than just that, with an electrifying, moving and deeply emotional ballet.

Blanche DuBois is a complex character. Married then quickly widowed, she moves into a hotel, then travels to New Orleans to live with her younger sister, Stella, and brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski.

Eve Mutso as Blanche DuBois with Company dancers. Photo: Andy Ross

Eve Mutso as Blanche DuBois with Company dancers. Photo: Andy Ross

Her journey and her life are somewhat tempestuous as she searches for that security, that stability, that rescue that only a man can bring. To Blanche, happiness and self-worth are measured by male companionship.

Blanche (Eve Mutso) is found dancing under a lone lamp in the ballet ‘s opening moment. It ‘s a vibrant and spritely solo, full of youth and vitality. Mutso has a delicate vulnerability and it soon turns into a playful duet with Blanche ‘s soon-to-be husband Alan, danced by Victor Zarallo.

Their duet is sophisticated, with the beauty of the piece being found in the dancers’ complete connectedness. The duet quickly turns into a fraught, tempestuous trio as they are joined by Alan’s lover.

Alan’s suicide is violent and shocking, even though it happens off stage, as it is set against that beautiful sense of connection. The sharp, sudden sound of a gunshot in clear contrast, creating a harsh effect that jars, yet only adds to the intensity.

maximum effect

The setting and backdrop to the ballet are innovative and exciting, creating a deeply effective element to heighten the contrast.

 

Rumour surrounds Eve Mutso as Blanche DuBois. Photo: Andy Ross

Rumour surrounds Eve Mutso as Blanche DuBois. Photo: Andy Ross

This adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play is delivered through various contrasts and juxtapositions, each utilised to maximum effect. On a physical level, there is an incredible interplay using Tim Mitchell’s lighting and Peter Salem’s sound and score.

The first act opens with a youthful naivety and innocence that is offset by dark undertones and sultry jazz in the hotel scenes. Visually, the attention to lighting throughout the piece provides powerful imagery that represents Blanche’s mental state.

Psychologically, the ballet continually dances across the lines between delicacy and force, pretension and passion, the genteel and the common, and ultimately, fantasy and reality. This is expertly captured and Williams’ vision brought to life through Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s innovative choreography and Nancy Meckler’s direction. Exquisite attention to detail ensures that the balance between dance and drama is maintained. Stella (Sophie Martin)’s contractions as she goes into labour are a stunning example of this beautifully executed balance.

There are further flashes of technical brilliance: the way the working people of New Orleans turn into the streetcar that take Blanche to her sisters; the boating choreography when she is courting Stanley’s innocent friend, Mitch; and where flashbacks and memories are delicately intertwined throughout the second act.

emotional breakdown

The physical manifestation of rumour is also very cleverly executed, accompanying Blanche’s turmoil and intensifying the disintegration of her mental state.

Sensuality is tantalisingly close yet unobtainable to Eve Mutso as Blanche DuBois. Photo: Andy Ross

Sensuality is tantalisingly close yet unobtainable to Eve Mutso as Blanche DuBois. Photo: Andy Ross

Mutso excels as Blanche, playing a delicious and complex range of emotions. Youthful hope and optimism are soon replaced by jealousy and disappointment. Her pretensions and superiority are effectively conveyed in scenes in New Orleans.

But it is her emotional breakdown that is particularly compelling: her distress is initially delicate but increases in intensity to culminate during Stanley’s physical assault of her. He leaves a physically and mentally broken woman lying on stage. Her finale, and descent into madness, is completely captivating.

Erik Cavallari’s Stanley is both magnetic and brutal, prancing around with overwhelming confidence and arrogance. His dominance over Stella – and Blanche – is ultimately absolute. Stella is consciously blind to her husband’s brutality. Wrapped in her desire for her husband, and ultimately her happiness and self-worth, her submission to him seals her and her sister’s fate.

Scottish Ballet’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire is a triumph, a clever and sophisticated piece of contemporary art in which dance and drama are perfectly balanced. It is vibrant, it is emotional, it is shocking, it is truthful and it is heartbreakingly brilliant as it delivers Williams’ vision with the intensity and emotion it rightly deserves.

Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes (including interval)
Festival Theatre, 13/29 Nicolson Street EH8 9FT
Wednesday 18 – Saturday 21 March 2015
Evenings 7.30pm, Saturday matinee: 2pm
Tickets and details: http://www.edtheatres.com/streetcar

Listings

Sadler’s Wells, London
Tue 31 Mar – Thu 2 Apr 2015 – 7.30pm
Box office 0844 412 4300 (bkg fee)
www.sadlerswells.com

USA
Harris Theater, Chicago
Thu 7 – Sat 9 May 2015 – 7.30pm
www.harristheaterchicago.org

Tobin Center, San Antonio
Tue 12 May 2015 – 7.30pm
www.tobincenter.org

Brown Theater, Houston
Fri 15 May 2015 – 7.30pm
www.spahouston.org

Byham Theater, Pittsburgh
Tue 19 May 2015 – 7.30pm
www.pittsburgh-theater.com

Spoleto Festival
College of Charleston Sottile Theatre, Charleston
Fri 22 – Sun 24 May 2015
www.spoletousa.org

Kennedy Center, Washington DC
Thu 28 – Sat 30 May 2015
Evenings 28-30 May – 7.30pm
Matinee 30 May – 1.30pm
www.kennedy-center.org

ENDS

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