“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers…”
To celebrate its 65th anniversary, Tennessee Williams’ landmark play A Streetcar Named Desire has been transformed into a mesmerising piece of contemporary dance by Scottish Ballet.
Two worlds violently collide when fading southern belle Blanche DuBois unexpectedly arrives at the cramped and squalid New Orleans apartment that her younger sister Stella shares with husband Stanley Kowalski. Blanche is haunted by a troubled past that she desperately struggles to keep hidden beneath a veneer of girlish gentility. However, her secrets are soon exposed by the vile and brutish Stanley, with devastating consequences.
For the Saturday matinée at Glasgow’s Theatre Royal, the protagonists were danced by Claire Robertson (Blanche), Sophie Laplane (Stella) and Erik Cavallari (Stanley). All three dancers gave captivating performances but Robertson must be singled out for making Blanche a surprisingly sympathetic character. They were ably supported by the excellent company.
The score by Peter Salem was specially commissioned for the ballet and features jazz-inspired sections, played by a live orchestra. Snippets of classic song It’s Only a Paper Moon provide both Blanche’s signature and a clever nod to the original source material. The design was by Niki Turner, with stripped-back staging and costumes used to great effect.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a gritty, emotional and compelling exploration of desire and psychological distress. With the capacity to shock, this ballet is not necessarily an easy watch. Nonetheless, I recommend that you go and see it if you can.
Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire is on a limited engagement tour of the UK during April and May.