(seen at the afternoon performance on 9th September 2017)
For those who remember Benedict Andrews mesmerising Young Vic "Streetcar Named
Desire," we are back on familiar territory. A clear reading of the text, firmly
emphasising the leading characters in every scene, everything played in "close
up" - with hallmark Young Vic anarchic design (Magda Willi) to drive its drama.
Sienna Miller (Maggie) and husband Jack O'Connell (Brick) play out their barren
marriage in a compelling first act. Both prove more than equal to their roles
(Miller even breaking to ask if an audience member taken ill was all right), and
battle lines are drawn for the combined second and third acts, played around the
family, after the interval.
Act Two gives Colm Meaney (Big Daddy) a chance to
shine, his irritation with all concerned played with depth. Lisa Palfrey (Big
Mamma) is a relentless optimist by contrast, and no wonder he feels that way.
Scheming Hayley Squires (Mae) and her unadorable children, and even worse
husband Brian Gleeson (Gooper) are cheerfully filled in, with decent support
from Michael J Shannon and Richard Hansell as Reverend Tooker and Doctor Baugh
The trouble is, when all the characters are on stage, Andrews
somewhat loses focus. As the intimate revelations are shared, they seem to
dissipate meaning, rather than build towards the dramatic climax. That isn't to
say the final moments are not laced with passion - it is just that leading up to
it seems rather under-powered by contrast.
The updated setting helps the
relationships sometimes lost behind faux "Southern Belle" to become real and
relevant. The fact what should be thick summer treacle filled air is thinner
than expected is an oddity, given the quality of cast and creative team. A
production of a great play that raises as many questions as it attempts to
answer, is the monkey verdict. Worth seeing.