Monday, December 7, 2009

"Desire" in Brooklyn

A Streetcar Named Desire is a boring play, isn't it? I can see why actors love it. All those long speeches and fiery dramatic gestures. No wonder Blanche is to actresses what Hamlet is to actors, the holy grail of roles.

So why did I go see it? One reason and one reason only. Cate Blanchett. Only the best actress living today. No best actress ever. Hyperbole? No, just my own personal opinion.

So how was it? The play was pretty boring and long. But the acting was fantastic. Cate as Blanche took my breath away. She built up the character. At the beginning I was like: is this it? It was too subtle for Blanche. But as the play went on so did the performance building up into a crescendo of emotion. Amazing. Her scenes at the end with Stanley were so rieviting. I could not take my eyes off of Cate. Nor did I want to. I was afraid I'd miss anything.

And she had excellent support. Joe Edergton as Stanley was carnal and explosive while Robin McLeavy brought a much needed earthiness to Stella. It contrasted well with Blanche's flightiness. And Edergton and McLeavy were dynamite together; you got why they could not take their hands off of each other. The weak link was Tim Richards as Mitch, his accent didn't work and he was outmatched in his scenes with Blanchett.

Liv Ullman's direction was subtle. But she made this Blanche's story. Maybe because Blanchett so dominates.

On a personal note. We had the worst seats in the house and my companion actually left during intermission because of the uncomfortable "bar stools" that masqueraded as seats at the Harvey Theatre. But I was enthralled because of Blanchett. Not the play, just Blanchett. Please do another play in NYC soon. Something modern and funny next time.


Candice Frederick said...

wow. Streetcard Named Desire is one of my favorite plays of all time. Tenessee Williams is a genius! Too bad this version wasn't good. Not even Cate could save it, huh?

Tom said...

'Streetcar' is a boring play??!! WHAT?! I must disagree.... and if you haven't gone back and seen the Kazan film lately, you are missing possibly the two strongest performances ever captured on film. (The fact that Leigh and Brando seem to be from two different schools even intensifies that effect.) I do agree with your opinion of Blanchett, who has impressed me in everything I have seen her in. But your NC friends envy your chance to see someone of her caliber on stage! Check out the New Yorker review-- Lahr called her the best Blance he has ever seen: