Scottish Ballet’s evocative production of A Streetcar Named Desire is a powerful dance-drama, one that will send you home a little wistful, a little troubled.
As the curtain goes up on an otherwise dark stage, we see the young, dreamy southern belle Blanche DuBois entranced by a lightbulb that shines on her from above. She smiles and reaches up, her hands like fluttering butterflies.
This production is based on Tennessee Williams’ famous play of the same name; but takes a radical departure from the original in that Blanche’s story is told chronologically, rather than coming to light as a bombshell late into the play.
The ballet audience is, therefore, deprived of the dramatic tension that sets in at the very beginning of the play, with the arrival in her sister’s New Orleans home of a Blanche about whom we know nothing.
Her boorish brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, suspects her airs and graces hide an ugly secret and sets about trying to uncover it. His suspicions prove contagious to the audience.
We lose in dramatic tension, but gain in narrative coherence. We see young Stella, danced here by a tall, blonde and immensely vulnerable Eve Mutso, marrying Alan, the young man she clearly adores; then finding him with his male lover; and losing her way and her mind when he’s killed.
We witness her descent into drink and prostitution.
And we accompany her in her search for some kind of safety in the working-class normality of her sister Stella’s home.
Here the ballet gains a new intensity, due to a large extent to the powerful presence and exhilarating dancing of Erik Cavallari as Stanley. Short, dark with very strong facial features and a tremendously expressive body, Cavallari owns Stanley with all his dangerous animal magnetism.
His relationship with Stella is by turns loving, jealous, possessive and violent. This elicits some of choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s most graphic sequences; but she reserves her most disturbing choreography for Stanley and Blanche, looked in mutual antipathy and a struggle for Stella’s affection.
From the moment they meet, Blanche’s downfall is inevitable; the shorter second half of the ballet, where it comes about, has all the power of an unstoppable steamroller.
Scottish Ballet’s edgy production of A Streetcar Named Desire marks the first-time collaboration between a theatre and film director, Nancy Meckler, and an international choreographer, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa.
Not surprisingly, it has a cinematic quality. Niki Turner’s designs, and the moody, often smokey lighting effortlessly transport audiences to 1950s New Orleans; and composer Peter Salem’s jazzy score provides the perfect combination of danceable music and atmospheric soundtrack.
Premièred in 2012, this piece has already wowed audiences across the UK. It won an accolade from the Critics’ Circle (Best Dance Production), an Olivier nomination and a South Bank award (Best Classical Choreography); and is about to embark on an extensive tour of the USA.
The ballet's adult content means it is suitable for those aged 12 years and up.
|What||Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire, Sadler's Wells|
|Where||Sadler's Wells, Rosebery Avenue, London, EC1R 4TN | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Angel (underground)|
31 Mar 15 – 02 Apr 15, 7:30 PM – 9:30 PM
|Website||click here to book via the Sadler's Wells website|