A Streetcar Named Desire: Theater review by David Cote
There’s a fiery revival of Tennessee Williams’s great drama buried under the truckload of 1990s regietheater clichés that Benedict Andrews dumps all over St. Ann’s Warehouse’s playing space. The same Australian director responsible for the flashy and shallow version of Jean Genet’s The Maids that starred Cate Blanchett in 2014, Andrews once more apes experimental staging tactics you find in productions from Thomas Ostermeier or Ivo van Hove—minus the intellectual or emotional engagement of either. When Blanche DuBois (Gillian Anderson), briefly comforted by the kindness of Mitch (Corey Johnson), exclaims, “Sometimes—there’s God—so quickly!” Andrews bathes his revolving steel set in red light and blares Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” I guess we should be grateful it’s not Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.”
All the thrash-metal sound cues, modern appliances and overdone erotics (Vanessa Kirby’s Stella spends loads of time in a bra and skimpy skirts) distract from a few genuinely daring performances. Anderson’s Kewpie doll Blanche and Ben Foster’s ex-Army douche bag Stanley strike sparks, but they’re quenched under cold design and drafty, portentous pauses. How does A Streetcar Named Desire balloon to nearly three-and-a-half hours? By stalling on the tracks.—David Cote
St. Ann’s Warehouse (Off Broadway). By Tennessee Williams. Directed by Benedict Andrews. With Gillian Anderson, Vanessa Kirby, Ben Foster. Running time: 3hrs 20mins. One intermission.
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