Dance review: Scottish Ballet – A Streetcar Named Desire (5 stars)

Dance Review: Scottish Ballet – A Streetcar Named Desire

Theatrical ballet captures intensity of Tennessee Williams’ classic play

They say two heads are better than one, and in the case of this passionate re-working of Tennessee Williams, it’s most definitely true. In a rare, bold and presumably expensive move, Scottish Ballet brought in not just a choreographer to create their version of A Streetcar Named Desire but also a theatre director.

That was back in 2012, when this remarkable ballet was first born, but that wise decision continues to pay dividends. Because not only does it contain emotive choreography that depicts love, grief, aggression, sexual passion, fear and vulnerability – the characterisation is second to none.

Human frailty in all its forms – whether it’s acted out through delicacy or violence – runs throughout Williams’ 1947 play. But here, thanks to a clever narrative twist that starts the story long before the play begins, we have a real chance of understanding what makes the characters tick.

A beautiful and wealthy southern belle fallen on hard times, Blanche DuBois is rendered even more tragic when we see the traumas that damaged her played out before our eyes.

However, it’s not just the narrative clarity that director, Nancy Meckler and choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa are to be applauded for. The staging here, has a strong European feel that gives this American tale a whole new flavour.

Scenes are set then scratched, simply through the use of perfectly placed beer crates. Superb lighting design takes us from the hustle and bustle of New Orleans nightlife to the heat of Stella and Stanley’s run-down apartment.

And throughout, this talented company demonstrates a boundless ability to execute Ochoa’s technically challenging choreography, and Meckler’s astute and deeply moving portrayal of characters whose desires outstrip their circumstance.

Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams' classic play is fused with dance from Scottish Ballet, featuring a jazzy score by Peter Salem.

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