A Streetcar Named Desire/Scottish Ballet, Sadler’s Wells - review
Florid, poetic, and poisonously beautiful — everything you could want from Tennessee Williams
Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire could serve as a template for how to tell a story with dance. Instead of calling on one creative vision, Streetcar paired up Nancy Meckler, co-director of the Shared Experience theatre company, with Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, a young Belgian-Colombian choreographer with an impressive list of credits but no experience of making a full-length narrative dance.
27 April 2012
The result is everything you could want of Tennessee Williams — florid, poetic, poisonously beautiful — while retaining a completely lucid plot, with Peter Salem’s jazz-based-melting-pot score providing just the right amount of New Orleans seasoning to the action.
Meckler and Ochoa flesh out the back story of the faded southern belle, Blanche Dubois, allowing her to be haunted at key moments by the ghost of her ex-husband Alan, who committed suicide after she discovered him with another man. Eve Mutso’s Blanche wears pointe shoes that allow her to tower over her partners in one instant and quaver before them the next. She may be a promiscuous lush but one alcohol-fuelled hallucination in which she takes a bath-tub boat-ride with two sailors and a cowboy in a feather boa suggest that her real addiction is to a kind of romanticised epicene adoration that makes no demands on her. The drink and the multiple lovers are only there to take the edge off.
Sophie Martin’s Stella is actually the more sensual of the sisters. Whether rapturously submitting to a make-up hump from husband Stanley or cradling her heavily pregnant belly, she seems content living in a permanent daze of physical satisfaction.
Tama Barry brings more than a hint of Marlon Brando to Stanley. He even gets to yell out: “Stella!” His dumb cruelty is obvious. After raping Blanche he strides off in his fancy dressing gown like a prize boxer. But it is also easy to see why Stella finds him so intoxicating, not least in his compulsive need to possess her. During their make-up sex he caresses her leg, and spins her by her foot, with the awe-filled mix of fear and deliverance that you might see in some ecstatic deep-South snake-handler.