NT Live A Streetcar Named Desire Review

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In case you are unaware, NT Live is a cinema platform that broadcasts an array of theatre productions (mostly plays), live, from London’s National Theatre (and increasingly other theatres in the UK & America). This week, they screened the Young Vic‘s hit production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Having enjoyed my first experience of NT Live (the play Skylight), I was excited to take my seat for this event … It definitely didn’t disappoint.

A Streetcar Named Desire

Set in downtown New Orleans, this play by Tennessee Williams sees Blanche DuBois (played by Gillian Anderson) – an attractive, deluded, fading, virtuous, damaged, alcoholic – pushed into a new, urban, world to which she is not accustomed.

As she stays with her sister Stella (played by Vanessa Kirby) & brother in law Stanley (played by Ben Foster) in a world of pretence, delusion and volatility; Blanche, and her web of lies, unravel.

The play has a lot to say about mental illness. Things are not always as they seem. Latching onto and probing individual’s weaknesses can have disastrous consequences. Be kind to everyone.

… was stunning. As a whole, the cast was brilliant but Gillian Anderson’s performance was simply sublime – she held a distinct level of intensity throughout. Her portrayal of Blanche’s pretence shone a direct spotlight on the devastation of the truth. I don’t know how anyone can have the emotional strength to do what she did six days a week.

This Production of A Streetcar Named Desire

The production was visually impressive. Performed in the round, the set comprised of a skeleton of Stella & Stanley’s apartment that rotated throughout the performance giving each audience member a unique perspective. Obviously, seeing the production on the screen, I didn’t get to experience this to its full effect – but I’m not sure how I would feel about a door (though be it translucent) suddenly appearing into my view!

I liked the manner in which they changed scenes. There would be a flash of coloured light, the sound of thunder followed by some intense, eerie, music while the actors on stage would move in fast forward motion.  It all added to the intensity and anticipation ingrained in the play!

My Verdict on A Streetcar Named Desire

This was an incredible production that I’m glad I got the opportunity to see. NT Live is both rising in my estimations and broadening my horizons. I would never have made the trip to see this production in the flesh. I always see plays as a big gamble (my money is spent much more easily on a musical). When a play gets great reviews, inevitably sells out and I’ve missed the opportunity; I often regret my decision not to book a ticket! NT live perfectly solves that problem by highlighting the best of the best and works out a whole lot cheaper too!

NT Live as a relatively inexpensive way to ease yourself into the theatre world – I can definitely recommend an encore screening of A Streetcar Named Desire! You can find out about any upcoming productions or encore screenings here. As an aeroplane-phobic, theatre loving Brit, I’m eagerly anticipating the UK screening dates for the recent Broadway production of Of Mice and Men starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd!

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