Theatre review: A Streetcar Named Desire

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Take one of the finest theatre cultures in Europe, famous for its rich combination of emotional eloquence and visual beauty; then take the show that was acclaimed as that country’s best production of 2015, featuring a leading performance also garlanded in awards.

Star rating: ****

Venue: Assembly Roxy (Venue 139)

That’s what’s on offer at the Roxy, in this beautiful production – played (with English surtitles) by the Tumanishvili Film Actors Studio of Georgia – of Tennessee Williams’s great modern classic about the fate of former southern belle Blanche Dubois, now broken, homeless, and dependent on the kindness of her sister Stella, and Stella’s brutally aggressive working-class husband, Stanley.

Staged against the beautifully-realised backdrop of a back-alley bar across the street, where the projected shadows of musicians play magnificent riffs of 1930s New Orleans jazz swelling up and fading behind the action, Keti Dolidze’s finely shaped 95-minute production offers a fascinating companion piece to this year’s Edinburgh International Festival production of The Glass Menagerie, reflecting the same sense that southern women like Blanche are not the fragile, mentally damaged flowers they are often taken for, but immensely strong women fighting for their lives, for their dreams, and for what they love, and eventually broken by social forces no human being could easily withstand.

Led by the magnificent Nineli Chankvetadze as Blanche, and Irina Giunashvili as a lovely and forceful Stella, the company offer a powerful vision of a culture where the women are tightly bound together in a sisterhood of mutual support and help, against the frequent violence and injustice of their menfolk. And if the bond between Blanche and Stella is finally broken when Stanley’s violence reaches a place Stella cannot afford to acknowledge, it remains the most powerful relationship in this unforgettable version of Williams’s great play; and the one that will haunt Stella, for the rest of her married life.

Until 29 August. Today 1:55pm.

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