A Streetcar Named Desire
- Liam Hainey
- 8 September 2017
Inconsistent rendition of an American classic
Rapture's production of Tennessee William's most famous tragedy is dominated by the strong central performance of Joseph Black. Playing Stanley, the boorish antihero who drives his sister-in-law to madness, Black fills the stage with his physical presence and the force of his will. Spitting his lines with a rapid-fire precision, he barely masks the dangerous violent urges lurking just beneath the surface or brood quietly, brimming with threat. When it comes to that iconic moment – when Stanley desperately bellows his wife's name – he encapsulates the anger, regret and shame that defines the play's atmosphere.
Against Black's ferocity, other cast members struggle to maintain the intensity. Gina Isaac's portrayal of Blanche occasionally feels flat, with her journey into insanity appearing more like eccentricity or generic drunkenness. Yet when opposite Kazeem Tosin Amore (Mitch) – a more fragile character, distinguished from the other men by his love for his dying mother – Isaac creates a quiet, awkward tenderness that is more effective than her more confrontational scenes with Black's Stanley.
Unfortunately, many of the cast, at one point or another, struggle with the peculiarities of the New Orleans accent. This lack of command over the Louisiana voice diminishes the sense of place which is so vital to Streetcar. New Orleans is a hot and sweaty place, the perfect backdrop for the passions of the characters.
While Michael Emans' direction offers strong renditions of the more dramatic (and well-known) scenes, it struggles with the connecting episodes, which are the mortar that holds the narrative together. Despite that, and although the performances throughout are inconsistent, when the cast do shine they do so brilliantly.
Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 9 Sep, then touring.