National Theatre’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”

 

Attn: The play is about 3 hrs, so as with the other plays, it is best watch it in pieces!

 

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the most iconic American plays, and one of the most studied by high school students in the United States, and throughout the English-speaking world.

 

2NDES: You are required to watch and review this play on the blog. In addition to it being a great play, you will study another one of Tennesse Williams’ plays next year as a part of your OIB syllabus, so this will be a great introduction.

TERM: You are required to watch and review this play on the blog. It is a great follow-up to Sweet Bird of Youth, as this is another of Tennesse Williams’ works!

 

PREM: It is strongly suggested but not required to watch and review this play on the blog. It is a great follow-up to Sweet Bird of Youth, as this is another of Tennesse Williams’ works!

 

A Streetcar Named Desire is available from Thursday 21 May 7pm on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel, then availble demand for one week until Thursday 28 May 7pm.

Please post your review before Thursday, May 28th.


Here is a brief intro the play which may help you write about it/digest it:

Consider the following in your review:

• The form and style of the production • The artistic choices which have been made, including sound, lighting, set and costume design choices • Your own critical appreciation of design elements and performance skills • What you think the creative and production team’s intentions were in staging the production • Significant moments in the production where you notice a specific performance skill being used or think a particular directorial decision has been made • Your own response to the overall effectiveness of the piece as an audience member • You could draw a sketch of the set and/or some costumes from the production as you watch

12 thoughts on “National Theatre’s “A Streetcar Named Desire”

  1. A Streetcar Named Desire
    This play is dramatic and modern.
    I was surprised by the nowadays costumes, decoration, staging… used.
    The darkness of some scenes helped the audience’s comprehension of the play and compassion for some characters.
    The music used, with or without lyrics, showed the misery and misfortune of Blanche as she is too lost and unfocused on the reality of life and Stanley who is too violent and disrespectful.

    The cast was incredibly well chosen, they were really skilled, professional, focused and were able to give a message to their public, because as it happens with singers, some actors can be really talented, yet they have nothing to transmit.

    Every little detail was taken into consideration, the beers , the pink circle for decorating the lamp, the cake, the pregnancy, the bathroom… even the tattoos of Stanley, which I supposed were real, helped and suited perfectly with his character.

    Even though some violence scenes were needed for accomplishing the goals of the message wanted to be transmitted in the play, sometimes I couldn’t look as it was too much, maybe it’s my sensibility, yet some parts were so violent and realistic at the same time, that they made me feel afraid and impressed.

    To conclude, in spite of its long duration, the play as a whole was interesting, current and easy to watch. I’ve learnt that decisions must be taken carefully, that every soul has its own wounds and that kindness and sympathy are crucial for coexisting, for living together.

    • National Theatre The streetcar named desire

      This play is based on the story of Blanc, who is struggling with life in general, that moves into her sisters and husbands apartment. She hides her true self and in the end is discovered and leaves the apartment after many weeks. This play is played on a small stage compared to the other plays. the stage is made up of the so called apartment with is very detailed and filled with chairs, tables, beds, a tub, liquor bottles, coca cola cans, and other things you would find in an apartment. The stage moves in a circles so that the entirety of the audience can see and observe the play. I addition to the apartment there are also stairs and the actor use the side of the apartment as well as the space in the audience to start and end a scene. The ceiling is covered with lights to illuminate the stage. Personally, i didn’t like this play as much as the others.. In addition there was the use of sound and light as well. Sound:gun shot, music,. Light: day and night, night club, poker game, green and red colors to show and emphasis a feeling and the use of light to direct the attention of the audience to one person. The costumes were modern and looked like clothes people would wear in a populated area where people make enough money to get by. The actors were very skilled. They all played their parts well especially Blanc that used her skills to either cry, act crazy, sexy, or depressed and beaten. I loved how all the props where there to elevate the realism of their acts. I didn’t really enjoy any part of the play because i though the story was a little to long and that their were a lot of flashbacks to blanc’s past. I recognize that it is hard to act out a part that is not of your character like blac did. She knew how to act and how to make the audience feel pity for her and also be angry at her. This play had a very meaningful plot of loneliness and desire to be loved .The most memorable part was when blancs sisters husband hurt her sister and how they all went to the second floor to hide from him and then he cried because he wanted her. The actor expresses his emotions very well. I kind of felt bad for blanc but in the end she got what she deserved and i thought that in the end her sisters husband would be left alone and blanc would leave with her because he was being mean but that didn’t happen. All in all, i wasn’t very attracted to the play and though it was well developed but to long.

  2. Personally I didn’t enjoy this play so much. The play in general felt a little long for me. It was a time similar to other plays, but the story wasn’t my style. The play is based on the story of moving to Blanc’s sister and husband’s apartment, who are having difficulties in overall life. This play had a very meaningful plot of loneliness and the desire to be loved. The play is performed on a small stage. It moves in a circle, allowing the audience to see with their eyes everywhere. The stage design is made up of apartment settings. The stage props were made up of things we commonly see, such as chairs, tables, beds, bathtubs, bottles, and other things you can find in your apartment. Stage lighting is shining on the ceiling. It used gunshot and music sounds as sounds, and it allowed us to distinguish between day and night by light and to know where the place is. It also spotlights the speaker or the person to pay attention to, helping the audience focus on the person. The costumes on stage are modern. These were clothes for the living. It was very friendly to me because I can often see people wearing these clothes in Korea. The best thing about this play was that the actors used Blanc’s technique to act. Each actor expresses his or her character’s emotions well.

  3. A Street Car Named Desire
    In a nutshell, the play is about Blanche, who comes from a ruined southern family, is a mature and decadent woman who lives anchored in the past. She is forced her to go live in New Orleans with her sister Stella and her brother-in-law Stanley, a rough and violent man, when she looses their family home in missisipy. Blanche hides a rugged past that has led to mental imbalance and their unstable behavior causes conflicts that change the life of the young couple.
    The play is filled with twists and turn, and very much describes the complicated live these siblings live.
    What i liked the most about the play were the costumes and the set. I felt that the set was very modern, which i did not expect and there was a lot of detail in each scene. There was also a lot of music used to intensify the emotions and expose the tone of the act, and the dimming of lights and the flashbacks also helped the viewers to understand exactly where and what the actors were doing in a certain scene.
    Although the actors were great, and the plot is a bit complicated i didn’t enjoy this play as much as i did the others. Regardless, it a good dramatic play, and well developed with moral lessons throughout it.

  4. A Streetcar Named Desire Review:
    I had already watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, which treats a few of the same issues as this play, such as greed, death, repression, superficiality and sexual desire. This play was first released on broadway in 1947 which is when mental health started to be taken more seriously. In 1946, President Harry Truman signed a law that aimed to reduce mental illness in America, which paved the way for the opening of the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) in 1949.
    A Streetcar Named Desire is a play that I strongly liked, despite the number of times I had to pause it in outrage or because of the incapacity to see the screen through tears.
    As said earlier in the review, this play treats multiple issues including mental health, greed and death. My favourite quote from the play is the following and comes from my favourite character, Blanche: “Funerals are quiet but death, not always.”. It shows how much Blanche actually went through, the extent of her pain. She follows up by saying that everything is calm in a casket, but it’s not so calm when you hear people begging for their lives.
    Blanche is much smarter and much more likeable than I originally gave her credit for. Her sister Stella, on the other hand, was the one I deemed smart, but who is naive,trapped in a cycle of abuse she doesn’t realize she’s in. Following Stanley hitting her, she has a clear way out of the relationship given that there were a lot of witnesses, and yet she willingly goes back downstairs to him, and ends up getting intimate with him straight after the fight, despite Blanche imploring her not to go back downstairs.
    After Blanche meets Mitch, we can clearly see the difference between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy one, the healthy one being Blanche and Mitch, who take their time to build a meaningful relationship, and the unhealthy one between Stanley and Stella where sex is the basis to their relationship. The repetition of the word desire further illustrates the idea of Stanley and Stella’s relationship being purely sexual.
    The normalization of abuse in this play is strongly dislikeable. It feels almost as if the audience should be helping, but obviously, as a viewer, it’s not possible to do anything.
    Blanche has gone through a considerable amount of emotional pain since the death of her former lover, making her more prone to mental illnesses. Blanche’s views on life itself got morbider and darker the more she stayed with Stella and Stanley, and I thought she would commit suicide by the endof the play. Thankfully, that was not the case as she was instead taken to a mental institution. Her mental health visibly decreases throughout the play. She starts off with a seemingly high self-confidence, but deals with severe panic attacks by the end of the play. Gillian Anderson made a great job of showing Blanche’s slow but sure mental decomposition. Hats down to her for that.
    Overall, I strongly enjoyed this play because of how incredibly well acted out Blanche’s mental decomposition was (once again hats down to Gillian Anderson) and how invested the play was in modern issues. The question now is: Is one life enough when you live like Blanche does?
    Mental illness is a serious issue and if you are struggling with it, you can reach the Crisis Text Line 24/7 by texting “START” to 741-741, or you can reach Fil Santé Jeunes (exclusively french and not a crisis line) by calling 0800 235 236.
    Stay safe, and more importantly, stay sane.

  5. Many aspects of this play were very good. Between the talented cast and the peculiar yet fitting scenery, the story was very well put across as what it is: a mix between a tragedy of sorts. I did not, however like this play. The first obvious reason is it’s length… I had to watch it over three days! And not because I couldn’t in one day, but because after around 45 minutes to 1 hour I was so sleepy! This was not a great play. I cannot deny the quality of the set-up, however, and therefore it is impossible for me to hate it; the emotions in this play were conceived in such a talented way, with perfect execution. There were moments that I felt were unnecessarily long, hence the length of the play, and they could be shortened quite drastically without taking away the play’s “greatness”
    Overall, I did not like this play, it took time out of three of my days, and for me it wasn’t for something I liked doing as extracurricular from my school work. I am almost tempted to say it was a waste of time, if it weren’t for the fact that we will be studying another one of Tennesse Williams’ plays next year as a part of our OIB syllabus. I was not a big fan, and I hope that next year’s play will be more to my liking.

  6. This play was actually really interesting ! Watching it was a little harsh sometimes but it was definitely worth it.
    A Streetcar Named Desire is about Blanche Dubois, a lady from Mississippi, who comes to seek refuge with her sister, Stella Kowalski, after she goes through the loss of the rest of her family. Stella is married to a man named Stanley Kowalski and is bound to have a child with him.
    When the play started, I was immediately startled by the quality of the setting, even though I was expecting it to be complicated to work with, It turns out the stage was used wonderfully by the actors. It’s composed of one house, which is never left during the play. Everything happens in that small flat from New Orleans. Blanche, however, is used to bigger settings as she was raised in luxury, even though she is strongly ridden with insecurities. Blanche’s insecurities are taken far above what an insecurity is, she’s scared to be perceived as poor, so she fishes for compliments constantly, which make her to be a dislikable character in the beginning of the play. At the end though, we build compassion for her, as we can clearly see that she is delusional.
    Music is also important in this play, regarding not only who was on stage (rock was playing whenever Stanley and his friends were in the center of the action, pop was playing whenever Stella was in the center of the action) but also regarding Blanche’s auditory hallucinations that she gets from the trauma of her first love commiting suicide. Additionally, any music in the play that had lyrics, was directly attached to the events on stage, especially with the song “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaak, with one of the lyrics being “It’s strange what desire will make foolish people do”, assuming the foolish people are the Kowalskis and desire is the basis to their relationship. Stanley in particular, as he sees Stella as a pure object, and doesn’t attempt to see above her looks. It’s sad because that means the child is only birthed from lust and desire, not love. Blanche says it herself, “death is the opposite of desire”, which would mean desire is life.
    All in all, this play treats of lust and desire in a way that is hard to watch, making it a great play. The best plays are those that make you feel things, and I definitely felt anger and sadness watching this masterpiece.

  7. A Streetcar Named Desire
    This play was really nice to watch,
    The story was good and interesting, also the customs and the background were surprising, I really the way it was design : modern, and also make it so real, this one was one of my favorite background of all the plays that we watched.
    The caracter were interesting too, the actors were really good.

    I like this play, even if it wasn’t my favourite story, the music, the bakground and the caracters were nice.

  8. “A streetcar named Desire” is a play that talks about Blanche, an English teacher, who left her hometown to live with her sister Stella and Stella’s husband Stanley. From the start, we can see that blanche has a drinking problem. She owns a lot of luxurious clothes and accessories and this fact made Stanley wonder if Blanche didn’t sell the family property, Belle Reve, without giving the money Stella should rightly have. At the end of a party with his friends, Stanley hit Stella but she came back to him fairly quickly; Blanche saw all of this and when he wasn’t there, she told her sister how brutal and violent Stanley was and that this wasn’t normal, but Stanley herd everything Blanche said and it created even more tensions between each other. Then Blanche started dating one of Stanley’s friend. He wants to marry. She told her the tragic story of her first love, who shot himself.
    Stanley hating Blanche, he searched for the reasons why she left her city, and he discovers some terrible things. Shortly after this, Blanche seems to become more and more deranged.
    Then, there was her birthday party, her downfall. All her traumas led to her being mentally unstable and the things that happened, such as her boyfriend discovering that she was hiding her age by only showing herself in the dark and Stanley having some fights with her, made her even more vulnerable to her mental illness. The more the scene continues, the more she seems to change, and not in a good way.
    Then, in the end, Stella made some doctors come to take Blanche to a hospital. This decision broke her heart but she had to.
    This play was very interesting. At first I didn’t really like Blanche because of her very judgmental/fake nature but as the play continued, I started developing compassion towards her. The end was heartbreaking, the way we saw Blanche just starting to lose touch with reality and how she was slowly getting worst made me very sad.

  9. A streetcar named Désir was definitely my favorite play we were assigned to watch so far. The actors were fantastic (and I recognized Gillian Anderson from a few movies and tv shows). The costumes were nice, the choice of music between scenes was interesting and the “open” set was nice. The story wasn’t hard to understand, although the southern accent was rather hard to comprehend at first. Overall, I really enjoyed watching the play which was excellent in my opinion

  10. A StreetCar named Désir
    This play was performed on a small stage which is organized in a “circle” which allowed the audience to have a good view of every angle of the stage.
    The stage design was made up of props that we would tend to see in a living space (here in an apartment).
    Some scenes were very dark which helped the audience’s understanding of the play and the feeling of empathy for some characters.
    Sounds were used to help the audience have knowledge of the time (night or day) and of the place in which characters were. They were also used to represent flashbacks.
    The music used showed the misery and discomfort of Blanche as she is very lost and has an unrealistic way of seeing life.
    The costumes and clothes used were surprisingly modern and looked like ‘usual everyday-life’ clothes.
    The actors were very well chosen, they were very experienced, competent, professional, and were able to make the audience feel very intrigued by the story. They were also able to deliver a message to their audience, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. It was a little difficult for me to understand their southern accent at first, but after a while, I got used to it and it became easier.
    To achieve their goal, which was to captivate the audience, everything had to be very realistic. Some parts of the play were really brutal and violent which impressed me and made me feel very connected to the play.
    To briefly resume the play, the story is about Blanche, a girl, who was raised in luxury but ‘covered’ in insecurities. She is scared to be seen as poor so she is always in need of compliments, which doesn’t make her look good in the beginning of the play.
    Therefore, the audience gets to know her more and changes their opinion. We realise she is just deranged and confused and we then begin to have empathy for her.
    She is forced to go live in the New Orleans with her sister Stella as well as her brother in law Stanley (a brutal and violent man). Blanche tells her sister about how she sees Stanley but he hears about it which creates even more conflict and tension between the both of them. After that, Blanche started dating one of Stanley’s friends. Stanley hates her and decides to do some research on her which results in him finding some terrible things about her. Blanche prefers to hide her complicated past and lie about things like her age, but those aren’t good decisions as they will lead to degrading consequences.
    At the end, Stella decides to make doctors come for Blanche to take her to the hospital, it isn’t a easy decision to make but she has to. The end is very heartbreaking, we see her getting worse and losing all touch with reality.
    In conclusion, the play was very intriguing and interesting to watch. It was very long but the way the actors played made it easier to watch considering the length of it. Now looking back on the play, I have learned a few things like that all decisions are important and that they do have an impact on our lives and that they have to be taken carefully. The play is also about loneliness and the desire to be loved. We also learn that unity and kindness are necessary to be able to share a life with people.
    Lastly, I enjoyed the play, it was very dramatic and full of important life lessons.

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