Currently at the Kennedy Center is a production of Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire as performed by the Sydney Theatre Company. Scott and I were lucky enough to scoop up tickets quickly, and it was without question the best money we’ve spent on entertainment all year (in my opinion).
Now perhaps I’m a bit biased here – this was my first time seeing Streetcar ever, and it was starring one of my favorite actresses – Cate Blanchett. But I could tell by the end I wasn’t the only one who thought it was stunning – so did my husband and the entire theater which gave a standing ovation that went on for 4 curtain calls! Clearly this production was something special.
The heart and the meat of the show is Blanchett’s performance as Blanche DuBois – a woman who appears to be superior and confident, but it belies a much darker past and many layers of madness. She acted the hell out of this role – every line was delivered with full conviction while savoring the words themselves. Picture her wringing her hands in a supplicating gesture as she pleads to Mitch, “I don’t want REALISM!” As Blanche’s lies unravel, so does her psyche, and Blanchett delves deep to show us a woman utterly destroyed. She…was…breathtaking.
And she didn’t go it alone – Joel Edgerton was a powerful presence as Stanley Kowalski – all swagger with a strong intuition. When he eventually gets to the point of assaulting Blanche, it seems the logical endpoint for his anger. Also on the plus side, Edgerton is very easy on the eyes. Let’s just say his butt gets its own scene. Seriously.
Robin McLeavy played things awfully meek as Stella, but it shows us perhaps why she has lived all her life in Blanche’s shadow. Here in New Orleans she could be the center of attention and worshiped by her husband – so she puts up with his drunken and abusive ways.
The set was sparse but appropriate for this show – it had a suffocating feel to it. And for an all-Aussie company, the accents were actually quite good. Only occasionally did things slip a bit. (“Steller…”) The direction was obviously superior, led by the incomparable Liv Ullmann, who stole my heart a few years ago as the narrator of the Oscar-winning animated short The Danish Poet.
All in all this is a production not to be missed – but sadly it’s sold out! So if anyone offers you a ticket to go as his/her date – GO.
Now as long as I’m talking theatre, I should give a couple quick reviews of our Broadway trip last month for Scott’s birthday! We took in a couple more plays with very famous film actors.
First we saw Jude Law in the title role as Hamlet. I tend to be a bit critical of Shakespeare productions now, just because I’ve seen so many of them! And on the whole I thought the production was just OK – the sets were nothing to write home about, and most of the performances were fair. (Don’t get me started on Ophelia – dreadful.) But Law was absolutely amazing – without question the best Hamlet I’ve ever seen. His performance was believable, he made the text come alive for the audience, and he kept his energy up for the entire performance. Which was a long one – no text was cut, which made this a 3 1/2 hour show. And even though I got antsy in my seat a lot, it was well worth it to see a brilliant actor in the performance of a lifetime.
The following day we went to see our boyfriends Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig in a 2-man play called A Steady Rain. It’s the story of a couple of cops in Chicago telling a wretched tale from very different perspectives. The script itself was not bad, if a bit predictable. But this really was about seeing men not only act, but act out at each other. Jackman was clearly more comfortable in front of the audience, enjoying the breaking of the fourth wall that this play shared with his prior Broadway role in The Boy From Oz. But at the same time Craig very ably filled the subtler role of straight man to Jackman’s antics, ultimately bringing sympathy to a character who may not be very likable. On the whole I didn’t love the show, but I did love the performances. Besides, how often do you get to see Wolverine take on James Bond, using only words as weapons?
So that’s been my theatre story as of late. What plays or musicals have you had the chance to see?