New Orleans, and Blanche visits her sister Stella (Kate Marston) because, although she won’t admit it, she has no place left to go. Unaccustomed to the squalor Stella and her brutish husband Stanley (Seth Kruger) live in, and the lives they lead, can Blanche stay with them and keep up the appearance of a southern belle, without anyone discovering her past?
Director Joe Richards understands the magnitude of the performances and performers that have come before, no less than Marlon Brando’s iconic Stanley. Rather than having Kruger mimic Brando, Richards has him play the role with less aggression and hints of doubt. The famous "Stella!" scene has no echoes of the past, as Kruger plays it gently; and even when thumping the wall and threatening violence, the animal instincts are spent.
The high note of the play is Davidson’s performance. From the opening she offers us the fragility of Blanche, showing the exhausting, difficult road she’s travelled. Throughout she is forever fidgeting, throwing coy glances over her shoulder, apologising and guzzling alcohol whenever she can. With delicate skill Davidson juggles the behaviours that make up Blanche: one moment she’s highly strung, the next she’s as brittle as a cheap necklace, and after that she’s seducing a young man. We expect her to shatter any moment, yet in the final scene she still offers us the dignity she’s held up for so long.
I always forget how quick paced Williams’s excellent play is, and also how sad. This is a solid production with great acting that I enjoyed.
A Streetcar Named Desire plays at the Corpus Playroom, Cambridge from 23rd February to 27th February starting at 19:00.