Theatre Reviews

Review: A Streetcar Named Desire by Rapture Theatre

a streetcar named desire

Rating: ★★ (2 stars)

Play: A Streetcar Named Desire

Playwright Tennessee Williams

Director: Michael Emans

Company: Rapture Theatre

Venue: Theatre Royal Glasgow

Performance Date: 9 Sept. 2017

Summary: “Southern belle, Blanche DuBois, seeks solace with her sister, Stella, after her world starts to crumble. But her downward spiral brings her face-to-face with Stella’s husband, the sexy but brutal Stanley Kowalski. As temperatures soar and passions rise, Blanche and Stanley battle for Stella’s soul.” (Source: http://www.atgtickets.co.uk)

Content Warnings*: Domestic abuse, verbal abuse/threat, sexism, racism, vivid description of a suicide, alcoholism.

*N.B. Please note that this review is only a review of the first act of the play, I had to leave due to personal reasons.


My thoughts

Tennessee Williams’ play could have been so much more, I am gravely disappointed in this production. I was expecting much more impact from the cast as an ensemble, but only Gina Isaac (Blanche DuBois) kept the energy up. Isaac’s performance was captivating and authentic; during Blanche’s monologues, I became immersed in her poetic descriptions as Isaac’s voice was entrancing, she truly brought Blanche’s charm and wit to life.

a streetcar named desire still
Kazeem Tosin Amore (Mitch) and Gina Isaac (Blanche)

As for the rest of the cast, I was frustrated with the lack of accent work and with some, authenticity. Julia Taudevin’s performance as Stella was dry and wooden, I felt that Taudevin was overwhelmed by Isaac’s energy and relied on Isaac’s presence. In their scenes, Stella felt barely there. Additionally, Joseph Black’s performance as Stanley was pushing on caricature which was especially noticeable during Stanley’s famous cry for his wife – it ultimately felt forced which ruined the moment.

The staging was ideal as it was small and cramped for the three central characters, the pale lighting was effective, but the pale moon in the background felt superficial and added without thought.

Why did I attend this play?

I love Tennessee Williams’ work, so I had to see this.

Would I attend another Rapture Theatre production?

Next time, I think I will pass.

Overall…

A Streetcar Named Desire should have blown me away, but it simply lacked energy and authenticity from the majority of the cast.

– Melissa Jennings


Have you seen A Streetcar Named Desire?

What were your thoughts? Let me know!


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Theatre Reviews

Theatre Review: The Crucible

 

theatre royal the crucible
Victoria Yeates (Elizabeth Proctor) and Charlie Condou (Reverend Hale) in Selladoor Productions’ The Crucible

 

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Play: The Crucible

Playwright: Arthur Miller

Director: Douglas Rintoul

Form: Tragedy

Performance Date: 5 Jun. 2017

Venue: Theatre Royal Glasgow

Summary: Based on real events that occurred in seventeenth-century Salem, Massachusetts, rumours of witchcraft arise due to a group of young girls found dancing in the forest at night.

The Good

Eleanor Montgomery (as Ann Putnam) was particularly harrowing as she conveyed her superstitious fears as she relayed her grief to Reverend Parris about losing her seven children. In addition, David Kirkbride interpreted John Proctor in a different light, in a more playful manner, which I had not interpreted before, until the final scene where Kirkbride truly revealed Proctor’s pride.

However…

Walking into the auditorium, I was met with dark throbbing music that seemed to set the tone for the play, however, I was deeply disappointed in the production overall.

The cast

I felt that some of the cast did not connect with the text, or as a matter of fact, with each other, so it became a rather disjointed performance. Cornelius Clarke (Reverend Parris) proceeded to scream his lines repeatedly throughout the production which eventually became tiring. Lucy Keirl (Abigail Williams) moved around the stage in such an awkward fashion, it looked as if she had not rehearsed. Victoria Yeates (Elizabeth Proctor) and Charlie Condou (Reverend Hale), as shown above, lacked energy and presence on stage; in particular, Condou who seemed disconnected or distracted during the production.

The set

The set was clean and simple, but that did not seem to stop the actors from blocking each other during some scenes. A strange aspect of the play was the overhead text from which was displayed at certain moments – particularly entrances. I felt it was unnecessary as it took away from the action below.

Why did I read it?

Arthur Miller’s play was one of the first plays I ever properly read in secondary school. Having re-read it last year, I knew it was a play that I had to see, so I jumped at the chance to see it at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow.

Has the theatre company produced other plays?

Selladoor Productions has produced an array of shows: a modern adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, R. C. Sheriff’s Journey’s End, and William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Overall…

I think the main issue with this production was the direction and perhaps some of the character choices. To me, there was not enough connection to Miller’s themes of paranoia, manipulation, and suspicion, which makes this play so engrossing and disturbing to experience.

– Melissa Jennings

Theatre Reviews

Theatre Review: Jane Eyre

JANE EYRE UK Tour 2017Royal National Theatre
National Theatre and British Old Vic’s Jane Eyre

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Play: Jane Eyre (based on the novel by Charlotte Brontë)

Director: Sally Cookson

Form: Drama/Literary Adaptation

Performance Date: 7 Jun. 2017

Venue: Theatre Royal Glasgow

Summary: A young orphan, Jane Eyre, is raised by her reluctant aunt, Mrs Reed, and attempts to find her place in the world in nineteenth century Northern England.

The Good

What I enjoyed about this production was its fluidity, each scene was connected through either movement or music. The fluidity of the scenes made Jane’s development much clearer. In addition to this, right from the beginning, the cast was incredibly supportive of each other onstage; an incredible amount of energy was present throughout the two acts, you could feel it in the audience.

An actor that stood out to me, in particular, was Melanie Marshall, whose haunting vocals intensified Jane’s key moments of developments. I will not mention Melanie Marshall’s specific role in the play as it will spoil the plot of Jane Eyre, so if you plan on reading Jane Eyre ever, do not look up what Melanie Marshall’s role is! Moreover, I found Cookson’s focus on Marshall’s role rather refreshing as I had not seen her role as important before. On a side note, I only read Jane Eyre at the beginning of 2017, and seeing the production made Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece even better!

However…

I do believe it was rather ambitious of Cookson to take on Brontë’s famous novel, and I think the production underwhelmed in areas.

The cast

I was disappointed in Hannah Bristow’s stale portrayal of Helen Burns. Bristow’s characterisation was not what I was expecting; she didn’t seem connected to what she was saying and she later portrayed Grace Poole and Diana Rivers in a similar manner. There was not a clear distinction between these characters. Nonetheless, I did enjoy Bristow’s portrayal of young Adele, who was bursting with energy! Nadia Clifford, who played Jane Eyre, struggled to project her voice during Jane’s older scenes with Rochester, but then at other times, Clifford, increased her volume at random intervals. In a similar way, when Evelyn Miller portrayed St John, she also struggled with her volume, however, I enjoyed Miller as Bessie, whose warmth radiated the stage and changed Jane’s posture.

The set

The stage was set from the beginning; a series of connecting wooden platforms with ladders and stairs with a wooden runaway, with the musicians tucked between the platform and runaway. From walking into the auditorium, I knew the play was not going to be an elaborate production of Brontës novel; the play would be focused on Jane’s movement, not the change of environment.

Despite this interesting choice by Cookson and cast, the use of the set and the movements of the actors became repetitive. The majority of the actors constantly climbed up and down the platforms which slowed the scenes down considerably.

Why did I see it?

Jane Eyre is one of my favourite novels of all time. I had to see it onstage. It was also my first National Theatre production!

Has the theatre company produced other plays?

National Theatre is currently staging a production of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America, Common, a new play by DC Moore, and Salome, another new play by Yaël Farber. Bristol Old Vic is currently home to Tristan and Yseult, a Kneehigh theatre production.

Overall… 

Cookson’s Jane Eyre was innovative but it lacked Bronte’s intricate characterisation. I think the production had some interesting imagery and staging but since it was so character-driven, the performance appeared to lack depth.

– Melissa Jennings