Review: A Streetcar Named Desire (UC Follies Theatre Company)

The Tennessee Williams’ classic receives a lively remount at Toronto’s Hart House Theatre

It’s hard to believe that Tennessee Williams‘ classic play, A Streetcar Named Desire (UC Follies Theatre Company), is 67¬†years old. Its portrayal of mental illness has become only more resonant over the years, and with society becoming even more educated and aware of mental illness, A Streetcar Named Desire will only continue to be a compelling piece of theatre. It’s currently playing at the Hart House Theatre.

A Streetcar Named Desire¬†focuses on Blanche Dubois, a woman who’s flighty demeanor is questioned when she comes to New Orleans to visit her sister, Stella, and Stella’s brutish husband, Stanley Kowalski. The dynamic between Blanche and Stanley is one based on mounting tension-both emotionally and sexually. Much like a kettle coming to boil, Blanche’s world becomes unravelled when she is forced to comes to terms with reality.

This production features solid performances from a game cast. Madeleine Yachnin tackles the titular role of Blanche with energy and enthusiasm. She easily convinces you that Blanche is slowly losing her grip on the world. Reece Presley also delivers a fine performance as Stanley. He physically dominates the stage much like the character of Stanley should and his imposing nature only adds to the tension of the situation. He’s like a bomb ready to explode. The supporting cast of Louis-Alexandre Boulet as Mitch and Liz Laywine as Eunice also offer solid performances.

On the technical side of things we get a nicely designed set by Brian Heyes. Its use of different levels is effective without being overbearing. The set is also constructed in a way that it allows the audience to differentiate between the inside and outside of Stanley and Stella’s apartment. Different locales can be tricky to display on stage but this production handles it with ease. The production’s lighting design by Yeonji Danielle Son is also extremely effective. Its use of different levels and shade help create a mysterious atmosphere around the whole piece. Blanche’s secrets are kept hidden until they’re brought into the light, literally.

The pacing in the play’s second half seemed to lag quite a bit, most notably during the pivotal birthday party and the final scene. There was energy to be sure, but overall it felt inconsistent in comparison with Act One. Some tightening of the pace during these scenes could help in maintaining a stronger rhythm. But overall, UC Follies production of A Streetcar Named Desire has plenty to offer and is a strong remounting of this timeless classic.

Details:

  • A Streetcar Named Desire (UC Follies Theatre Company) is playing at Hart House Theatre (7 Hart House Circle) until December 6th
  • Performances are Friday and Saturday at 8pm with a Saturday matinee at 2pm
  • Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for students/seniors. Group rates are also available
  • Tickets are available for purchase online or at the box office

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