When Blanche DuBois descends on the tiny residence of her sister Stella and her husband Stan Kowalski, she is initially shocked . It is very far removed from the world they grew up in, ‘a great big place with white columns’ called ‘Belle Reve’ in Mississippi. They lived in a world of Southern gentlemen and had all the privileges that money offers. It becomes clear that Belle Reve has been lost, and Blanche will only say it is due to the epic fornications of their ancestors. Blanche is plunged into a world of poverty and violence in New Orleans, a world she is not suited for.
This is an impressive production of the play with some fine performances. Central to the play, is the role of Blanche and Lia Williams has just the right balance of fading beauty, wit and charm. Lia is a Tony award nominee who has worked extensively on stage in London and she cuts right to the core of the character creating a complex individual who is extremely likeable on stage but deeply flawed.
Between stage changes, there are a number of songs, as a bass sax plays and a young singer drift across the stage, this is used to create the setting, as New Orleans is synonymous with Jazz music and works well. The stage has a raised platform with the small apartment, and the back wall of the stage forming the street outside, and this allows for great movement between the various areas.
Tennessee Williams wrote ‘A Streetcar named Desire in 1947, and the play has lost none of its power or beauty in the intervening years. It is a play that deals with the relationship of sex and death, the fantasy lives people create for themselves, and their inability to deal with reality. It is a beautiful play with rich language and deals with difficult themes and issues.This is a strong and purposeful production of one of William’s finest plays, and the stand out performance of Lia Williams holds the various strands together.
A Streetcar Named Desire runs at the Gate Theatre until September 21st. The play is just over three hours with a 15 minute interval so be prepared for the long haul.
Directed by Ethan McSweeny
Set Design by Lee Savage
Costume Design by Joan O’Clery
Lighting Design by Paul Keogan
Sound & Music Design by Denis Clohessy
Voice Coach Cathal Quinn
Lia Williams as Blanche DuBois
Catherine Walker as Stella Kowalski
Garrett Lombard as Stanley Kowalski
Cast includes: Malcolm Adams, Steve Blount, Denis Conway, Gavin Fullam, Bosco Hogan, Esosa Ighodaro, Elizabeth Moynihan, Marion O’Dwyer and Conor Sheil.