Review Round Up: A Street Car Named Desire, Almeida Theatre

Find out what critics have been saying about Rebecca Frecknall’s production of Tennessee Williams’ play, now officially open at the Almeida Theatre.

(c)Marc Brenner

The Guardian: **** “Mescal’s performance is matched by his two accompanying leads. Ferran, who stepped in to play Blanche last month when Lydia Wilson withdrew due to an injury, is a butterfly in diaphanous dresses whose nerves are quickly jangled but who maintains a steely front in her power battles with Stanley. Vasan’s Stella, meanwhile, has soft, sensuous chemistry with Mescal and a more bristling relationship with her sister.”

Evening Standard: **** “Tennessee Williams doesn’t do happy endings but this production represents a triumph over disaster. Frecknall proves herself again to be a director of great vision and invention. And the performance that Ferran has pulled out of a hat, and the way she’s seamlessly integrated it with those of her impressive co-stars, is frankly astonishing.”

WhatsOnStage: **** “Now it’s here, this Streetcar isn’t quite as revelatory as that extraordinary production. But it is nevertheless a thoughtful and insightful look at a great and emotional play, one which dusts away layers of accumulated history to reveal the bare bones of a story where death is the opposite of desire, and where the fear of both can tear a woman’s mind to shreds.”

Broadway World: ***** “Frecknall delivers a seductive, intense revival that offers a stripped-down forensic look at violence, masculinity, and how we relate to mental health. A sublime, award-worthy powerhouse of a performance from Ferran lies at the heart of it, turning into another career-defining role for the actress. She is fragile and tough, desperate and hopeful, comical and heartbreaking as she coquettishly paces the space.”

The Stage: **** “Rebecca Frecknall’s fresh take on the Tennessee Williams classic, starring Patsy Ferran, Paul Mescal and Anjana Vasan, is psychologically penetrating and emotionally devastating.”

i News: ***** “Ferran is a magnetically attractive Blanche: with a sudden snatched glance or fluttering hand movement, she suggests all of Blanche’s long-honed powers of seduction, as well as her growing desperation.”

The Telegraph: **** “It’s no surprise that the run at the Almeida Theatre, starring ‘hot property’ Paul Mescal and rising star Patsy Ferran, has already sold out.”

The Arts Desk: **** “With mental health, misery and misogyny very much at the forefront of political and social concerns these days, Williams’ power to channel his real life sister’s appalling treatment at the hands of an ignorant and callous system is as relevant as ever. This production’s approach to foregrounding those themes with extraneous bells and whistles rather crowds out the the luminous prose in the text. Like Blanche, those words need some time and space to grow, but their poignancy still shines through and your heart bleeds for a flawed woman led off to a terrible fate with strangers whose kindness will be meagre, only her hulking nemesis finding any satisfaction in the barbaric medical interventions that will follow.”

Culture Whisper: **** “Frecknall’s production is faithful to Williams’ preference for expressionism over naturalism. Staged in the round, it runs like a dimly lit fever dream (well, nightmare), with a chorus passing the odd prop onto the otherwise bare stage and designer Madeleine Girling’s (Amélie the Musical) curtain of rain providing brief moments of visual splendour.” 

Time Out: **** “Beyond the terrific actors, Frecknall’s production is wired and adrenalised, aesthetically defined less by Madeleine Girling‘s minimalist set than Penn’s thunderously jolting drums. It’s a jarring approach that feel both invigorating – it‘s so loud you’re hardly going to nod off – and wilfully playing against the melodrama in Williams’s text, occasionally to the point of perversity.”

The Independent: **** “The ‘Aftersun’ actor gives an entrancing performance in Rebecca Frecknall’s intense Tennessee Williams revival at the Almeida.”

A Streetcar Named Desire continues to play at the Almeida Theatre until the 4th February 2023.

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