by Tennessee Williams.

Liverpool Playhouse Williamson Square L To 10 March 2012.
Audio-described 9 March.
Captioned 10 March 2pm.
Runs 3hr One interval.

TICKETS: 0151 709 4776.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 28 February.

Distinctive if not definitive.
Not marinated by the sweat and sun of New Orleans, Tennessee Williams’ territory here consists of daily lives as clearly defined as any in Liverpool. And Stanley’s sexual assault on sister-in-law Blanche, while his wife’s in hospital giving birth, isn’t the culmination of brooding passion which has motored the tensions so far.

It’s those other tensions that have fuelled an anger eventually taking revenge on the over-sweet manner, not-so-young body of a woman who’s spent the time going around pretending to be sweet, ladylike and younger than she is. Mitch, the nearest to a sensitive personality in Stanley’s card-playing set, is at his most clear-sighted when he realises Blanche has carefully evaded being seen in full light all the time she’s been sweet-talking a way into his affections as a potential meal-ticket.

Sam Troughton’s Stanley is rough-and-ready, but only as much as all life round here. As the huge, slant-walled room of Gideon Davey’s set revolves, it reveals the street and a staircase to another apartment upstairs, from where the temporary rages of Eunice and her husband beat loudly down.

Leanne Best’s Stella, the sister who got away from imagined ole’ Southern graciousness to urban reality, knows the life of the district, stepping through their huge window to meet folk outside, realising things stabilise after angry storms, because life has to go on, and people get on, in a world Blanche desperately denies.

Troughton’s Stanley stands up for himself – it’s central to his American identity that his Polish identity be respected. And whether he found out in a library or by asking around, he gives the sense he’s researched legal property rights, his criticisms of Blanche’s spending being rooted in the mental accounts he’s keeping.

It makes Blanche’s evasions seem more self-serving. We’re no more taken in by her than he is. Amanda Drew’s Blanche keeps herself on the tracks by speeding along too fast to fall off. Words helter-skelter from her as if silence will make her realise truths she’d rather not face. It demystifies the character, but defines it sharply, suggesting the vast sadness behind the failing life.

Eunice: Annabelle Apsion.
Pablo: Russell Bentley.
Stella: Leanne Best.
Blanche: Amanda Drew.
Doctor/Young Collector: Stephen Fletcher.
Mitch: Matthew Flynn.
Steve: Alan Stocks.
Woman/Mexican Flower Seller/Matron: Mandi Symonds.
Stanley: Sam Troughton.

Director: Gemma Bodinetz.
Designer: Gideon Davey.
Lighting: Paul Keogan.
Sound: Fergus O’Hare.
Composer: Peter Coyte.
Dialect coach: Sally Hague.
Fight director: Bret Yount.

2012-03-18 11:33:26

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