By Samuel J. Cox
I haven’t been rocked so hard since Menswear Dog started modelling for American Apparel.
Proving to be heavy Monday night thought fodder, the Black Swan Theatre Company’s cast of twelve brought Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize winning drama to vivid life.
Starring Sigrid Thornton (the best thing to come out of the popular late 90s Australian TV drama ‘SeaChange’ [after David Wenham]) in the lead role of Blanche DuBois, the play was at times heavy going, but the scenes of sex, rape and domestic violence were tastefully and convincingly presented. The incredible, authentic set and costuming play a central role in immersing the audience in 1940s New Orleans.
The play begins with the arrival of Thornton’s Blanche at the house of her sister Stella (Jo Morris). Having mismanaged her family’s estate into ruin, this Southern belle with fading looks and a poor reputation is a character not unlike that played by Cate Blanchett in ‘Blue Jasmine’ [read: neurotic and annoying].
Garishly dressed like an aging French whore and burnt out like a Krokodil addict, she clashes with Stella’s husband Stanley Kowalski (Nathaniel Dean) and they battle each other for Stella’s affections. The Rihanna to Stanley’s Chris Brown, Stella is ever patient and understanding with her deluded, manic sister whose tenuous mental state deteriorates as the play continues.
The audience were ever conscious that the play was building towards the famous scene in which Stanley bellows for his wife to return downstairs to him after one of their altercations. When the moment arrived, the crowd gasped in admiration of Dean’s powerful, masculine roar (although Josh Hartnett did it better in ‘Hollywood Homicide’ [only joking. But seriously]). He looks and acts, in the words of Liam Gallagher, ‘fu*king dangerous’ as he spectacularly crashes about the set like a bowling ball, shrouded in intensity and sexual chemistry. With a jaw that could cut glass, Dean successfully conveyed the constant rage simmering just below Stanley’s (barely) civil façade and is the star of the performance.
A Streetcar Named Desire runs until April 6 and is selling fast.