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Timely staging of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Lyric

Aoibhéann McCann and Mark Huberman star as Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski (pic by Johnny Frazer) 
Aoibhéann McCann and Mark Huberman star as Blanche DuBois and Stanley Kowalski (pic by Johnny Frazer)
By Ciara Quinn

THEY told me to take a streetcar named Desire,” says self-designated southern belle Blanche DuBois, who stands neat as a pin in her vivid green suit, heels and ‘merry widow’ head dress as the Lyric audience is transported to the stifling heat of the 1950s New Orleans Latin Quarter.
Blanche, who “taught school”, is someone who has ideas about herself and is meticulous about her appearance down to the most minute of detail, yet has come to find herself moving in with her sister in rather straitened circumstances.
Blanche is shoehorned into the claustrophobic two-room apartment of, when we first meet her, a barefoot and pregnant Stella (Meghan Tyler demanding and winning our sympathy as a put-upon wife and sister) and her alpha-male husband Stanley (a wonderfully volatile Mark Huberman). The couple has moved there after the loss of the family home, Belle Reve, to creditors. Stanley’s suppressed rage at his lot in life finds an outlet when Blanche turns up.
Through “nips of whiskey”, “sips of Bourbon” and card games, Blanche’s dreamy posturing and posing (beautifully portrayed by Aoibhéann McCann) collides head-on with Stanley’s rage and the anger boils over as the play reaches its brutal, violent climax.
The production is spot on in its timing, debuting as the fall-out from the #MeToo campaign around the abuse of women continues to gather pace. Key contemporary issues of PTSD, mental health and gender equality are brought into sharp and devastating focus and we are forced to confront the question of how much – if anything – has changed in 70 years.
Emma Jordan’s sure-footed direction, Ciaran Bagnall’s atmospheric set and lighting design, Enda Kenny’s exquisite costume design and Carl Kennedy’s sound design interweave to bring us an utterly convincing sense of place and mood and combine with an absolutely outstanding cast to make this production the best I have ever seen at the Lyric.
The audience were on their feet at the end to gave a well-deserved standing ovation to all involved in a play that will stay with you for a long time to come.
A must-see.

A Streetcar Named Desire runs at the Lyric Theatre until June 8. For ticket information visit www.lyrictheatre.co.uk

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