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Soulpepper has very wisely decided to revive its 2019 production of Tennessee Williams’ great play with almost the same cast.
The production is an undeniably superb staging owing to the bravura’s performance of Amy Rutherford as Blanche Dubois. Rutherford faces a character that is fragile, mendacious, egotistical, and trying desperately to conceal the fact that she is at the end of her rope. She has the fading beauty of Blanche, downs alcoholic drinks while pretending not to drink much if at all and wants to be admired for her clothes and her beauty regardless of reality.
Rutherford’s Blanche goes to extremes to appear sophisticated, cultured and a woman of refined tastes who looks down on everyone especially her sister Stella’s lifestyle and the manners of her husband, the “Pollack” Stanly Kowalski. The truth about her life, her lies and the depravity to which she has sunk, come creeping on her until they destroy her.
Rutherford brings out the deteriorating physical appearance, the mannerisms and the body language that define Blanche perfectly in a brilliant and unforgettable performance.
Blanche is the perfect opposite of her sister Stella who has married a crude, ill-mannered man but with whom she is in love, in lust and happy about it. The couple lives on the wrong side of the track but in an integrated community that gets along. Shakura Dickson delineates a sympathetic, tough and humane Stella who understands her sister and tries to cover up the awful reality that she sees. She has made her truce with life and is content but is forced to face the reality of her sister’s delusions and deterioration. Dickson shows Stella’s strengths and humanity and when Blanche is taken away to an asylum, she lets out a heart-wrenching scream that is like an emotional punch in the gut.
Mac Fyfe has no difficulty portraying Stanley. One of the most famous moments occurs when he bellows “Stella” following his drunken abuse of her. He yells her name but he adds two syllables to his bellow and the word Stella is elongated to Stella-ah-ah and modulates his voice to express anguish, regret, fear, terror, it is a masterly touch.
What I did not get from Fyfe is the magnetism that should modify his character for the audience and Stella. His lust, his crudeness and love for Stella are there, but there is no other saving characteristic. We should not forget that in the end he becomes a rapist.
Gregory Prest deserves special praise for his portrayal of the decent, lonely, pathetic Mitch who tries to establish a relationship with Blanche. He is quickly disabused when he finds out a few facts about her past.
The set designed by Lorenzo Savoini showed a card table on the left separated by a curtain for the kitchen and bedroom to the right, A staircase leads to the apartments of the neighbors. In short, it does the job well. The same may be said of the costumes designed by Rachel Forbes.
Director Weyni Mengesha has added some music and a large screen is projected on the stage and we hear a band play. I have no idea why she added the music but I found it distracting and annoying. aside from that I found this a landmark production and Mengesha deserves full credit for attending to the details required for an outstanding production. Except for the music, everything was done meticulously for a great night at the theatre.
A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams continues until July 7, 2024 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, 55 Tank House Lane, Toronto, Ontario, M5A 3C4.

June 27, 2024
Cultural - Κριτική Καλών Τεχνών

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