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Saturday, 13 September 2014

'A Streetcar Named Desire' - Young Vic.

I had been looking forward to the Young Vic's production of 'A Streetcar Named Desire' for what seemed like forever. But the September 12th finally rolled around and I couldn't wait any longer. My Mum managed to bag tickets to this much-coveted production and we were so lucky to get in at all. Gillian Anderson's title role as the flawed heroine, Blanche DuBois, has made the Young Vic's adaptation of Tennessee Williams' most famous play the theatre trip of the season.
Having only visited the Old Vic theatre once (when I was studying my Drama GCSE at that), I was really curious as to what the Young Vic would have to offer. I wasn't disappointed. Its small and intimate setting, just a two minute walk down the road from her elder sister, makes for a more relaxed vibe. Perhaps Mum and I chose the right day to go as yesterday was warm and sunny, but it felt like a more laid back setting from what I remember of the Old Vic. The theatre hosts a gorgeous balcony where Mum and I sat and had a Coke during the interval - it was the perfect place to just sit and watch the world go by.
One of the many things I loved about the performance was that it was theatre in the round - this breaks the boundaries between the standard audience and stage divide. If you ask me, it makes for a more intense performance. The great thing about the Young Vic's interpretation was that the stage also rotated all the way through the three hour length of the play which meant you saw the performance through a variety of angles and perspectives. The musical interludes between scenes provided a sense of continuity while also bringing it into the 21st century.
Gillian Anderson deserves every ounce of praise she's already received for her performance - she was funny, poignant, and downright chilling. She made me laugh, feel enormous sympathy, and want to cry all over the course of three hours. But her co-stars were equally as wonderful. I was seriously impressed with Vanessa Kirby's interpretation of Stella. Having studied this play as part of my English A-Level, I had always been frustrated with the character of Stella - but Vanessa Kirby brought her to life and made me understand why she had to choose Stanley over her sister. Although her accent sometimes faltered, her overall performance was phenomenal and exactly on point.  Meanwhile, Ben Foster's interpretation of Stanley was fast-paced and often terrifying.
I loved how true Benedict Andrews' adaptation stayed to Williams' original work. A huge part of my A-Level coursework was Blanche's aversion to the light and the fact that she avoids realism and instead craves 'magic'. She lives in a fantasy world that is already crashing down around her when she is confronted with the brute realist, Stanley Kowalski. It was harrowing yet strangely addictive to watch these two battle against each other - and use Stella as a weapon - in this cultural and idealistic power struggle.
Seeing 'A Streetcar Named Desire' performed on stage brought a play I know by heart to life. It's an emotionally harrowing and incredibly powerful dramatic masterpiece. You always know that you've seen a great theatre performance when you're still moved by it days later. Plus, the Young Vic is set in the heart of London - an area I'm desperate to explore a little more before my move to Southampton in week.

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