Review. A Streetcar Named Desire – Curve Leicester.

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At Curve Studio Leicester, the realistic stage setting for this moody New Orleans based classic by Tennessee Williams (designer Michael Taylor) visually pulls together all that is stifling and oppressive and even with all the sash windows open the prickly heat just seeps in regardless. Adam McReady’s (sound designer for Poetical Machines Ltd) sound design is robust, jazzy and often shocking as it plays with the various tempos and emotional, regularly combustible, human temperatures of A Streetcar Named Desire. An atmospheric lighting design is achieved by designer Guy Hoare.This is one hot Mamma of a production.

Nikolai Foster directs this brooding play with the emphasis on natural playing. It is a complex play to perform, not necessarily in the story line, but in the subtleties of the often flawed characters multi-dimensional personalities and Charlie Brooks as Blanche Dubois gives what is undoubtedly her best performance yet. Her mercurial portrayal goes from being a rather fey woman out of place, shocked by her new tawdry surroundings, even with her sister Stella Kowalski (Dakota Blue Richards) for company, to brutalised victim heading for a mental collapse.

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Photo credit Manuel Harlan

As Stanley Kowalski actor Stewart Clarke is conniving danger personified. His temperaments are as taut as his muscular body but Clarke brings a great deal of light and shade to his role and is no one sided brute. As a newcomer to the play it is shocking to see the unsympathetic Kowalski survive the roller coaster ride of Williams brilliant play. The outbursts of violence and fight scenes choreographed by fight director Kevin McCurdy are stunningly raw.

Eunice Hubbel (Sandy Foster) and Steve Hubbel (Mark Peachey) make a realistic pair of neighbours especially in their martial fights and vigorous ‘shag and make up’ sessions. Peachey is unrecognisable as Hubbel compared to his recent role as Richard III in the Curve Community production and certainly a naturally charismatic  actor to watch on the theatrical scene. His acting is on the pulse of every role he plays and he has a vitality that is infectious.

As Blanche Dubois’s nervous and romantically disappointed beau Patrick Knowles makes a sympathetic and utterly believable and watchable Harold Mitchell. All other roles are eloquently played by Charlie De Melo, Natasha Magigi and Nicholas Alexander.

Set in the summer of 1947 A Streetcar Named Desire is a classic tale of lies and human downfall told by a master playwright. It concerns the plight of an outsider and makes a passionate plea for tolerance and beauty in the midst of all that is opposite. This studio production is a hot ticket. Bring your hankie to mop your fevered brow and wipe away a few tears.

Runs from 16th Oct to 7th November. At Curve Leicester.

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