A Streetcar Named Desire

Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Mary Brennan

Five Stars

EIGHT years have passed since Scottish Ballet last staged this internationally acclaimed version of Streetcar Named Desire for their home audiences. Dancers who so compellingly created the key roles have gone, however new talents have come into the company and are now bringing their own expressive energies to the work, making this a searingly potent revival worth waiting for.

Marge Hendrick steps into Blanche’s pointe-shoes with all this Southern belle’s romantic yearnings and innate fragilities in place.

Her hapless, unworldly Blanche increasingly inhabits a booze-fuelled realm where ghosts from a tragic past intermingle with brutal episodes from a present she doesn’t quite fit into – none more brutal than her brother-in-law’s rape.

Guest artist Ryoichi Hirano’s Stanley gives a callous, controlling malice to the assault – how, you wonder, can such a delicately brought-up girl like Stella (Bethany Kingsley-Garner) stand this uncouth, possessive man.

The Herald: Bethany Kingsley- Garner as Stella and Marge Hendrick as Blanche in Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire Piccie credit - Andy RossBethany Kingsley- Garner as Stella and Marge Hendrick as Blanche in Scottish Ballet’s A Streetcar Named Desire Piccie credit - Andy Ross (Image: free)

The answer lies in the animalistic passions that choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa unleashes in the duet that follows Stanley’s ill-tempered beating of Stella.

Sex is what binds them together, even as sex has been the undoing of Blanche, forever mistaking countless couplings with strangers for the love she so craves. Watching Hendrick’s long, pliant limbs crumple into abject desolation is unerringly poignant, the pathos never over-done, the effect memorably harrowing. What you see on-stage, is a dancer coming into her own, technically and dramatically – bravo!

The whole production – directed by Nancy Meckler, choreographed by Ochoa with music by Peter Salem – resonates throughout with the painful insights and inner tensions of Tennessee Williams’s play.

The company, ever versatile across dance genres, people the minimalist set with the shifting atmospheres that follow Blanche from the genteel, fading South to the razzy-jazzy New Orleans that ultimately undoes her. Rich in intelligent complexities of character, rich in clever details of design, rich in vividly live music – this is Scottish Ballet at its blistering, impactful best.