Tennessee Williams’ torrid play about the fragile and promiscuous Southern belle Blanche DuBois on a collision course with her brutish brother-in-law Stanley Kowalski has appeared in dance form twice before, notably John Neumeier’s version in 1983 for Frankfurt Ballet.
Andrew Peasgood (Young Boy), Eve Mutso (Blanche) and Victor Zarallo (Alan) in A Streetcar Named Desire at Theatre Royal, Glasgow (previous pictures shows Eve Mutso and Erik Cavallari) Photo: Andrew Ross
For this world premiere of their version for Scottish Ballet - the first with an original score - film/stage director Nancy Meckler and choreographer Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, refocus the piece back to Blanche in an attempt to lay the intrusive ghost of Marlon Brando’s original Stanley.
Using beer crates that act as building blocks for walls, chairs and tables, the set is simple and effective, especially when Blanche’s plantation house literally collapses.
To Peter Salem’s original and atmospheric score, Ochoa creates short bursts of action and rapid groupings, almost entirely dominated by Eve Mutso’s willowy Blanche, who is haunted by the ghost of her dead husband and her own deluded fantasies.
While the combination of naturalistic gesture and dance is hard to accommodate at first, the stylised ensembles reveal an assured integration of stagecraft and cinematic vision. Sometimes there is too much going on - the flower sellers occupy too much time and space without purpose, and what’s with the Umbrellas of Cherbourg sequence?
But the compensations are many: an explicit pas de trois between Blanche, her husband and his lover, a smouldering pas de deux between Tama Barry’s cocksure Stanley and Sophie Martin’s superb Stella, and a violent rape scene that is alarmingly realistic. Best of all, the lucid treatment allows for a greater understanding of Blanche’s predicament - from the opening image of her reaching with fluttering hands towards a bare lightbulb. Butterfly or moth, she is destined to be burnt.