[THEATRE/Thriller ~ SA]
Bakehouse Theatre, Fri 29 Apr, 2022.
A Streetcar Named Desire had a huge impact when first performed in the late 1940s due to its no-holds barred revelation of sexual mores of the time and American society’s treatment of women. The sexual undercurrents running through the play are pretty lame and inoffensive by contemporary standards, but sadly the issue of domestic violence against women is just as prevalent as it was back then. It was shocking then and it is shocking now – some men continue to parade around as the king of their households and use the threat of potential or actual violence to get their way.
According to Stanley, he and Stella were quite happy until her sister Blanche arrived and started rocking the boat with her judgemental ways and fake upper class pretensions. Blanche considers Stanley to be sub-human and implores her sister to leave him. Stanley does a little digging into Blanche’s sordid past and decides he can indeed be sub-human with her and take her whenever he wants. Her looser moral code in relations with men means she forfeits all rights to personal safety if men like Stanley decide to have his way with her.
This was a wonderful choice as the Bakehouse Theatre’s swansong. It has reliably maintained a high level of quality theatre for decades and sadly concludes on this very high note. The cast was uniformly exceptional, but one must give special credit for Melanie Munt’s performance as Blanche. It’s a demanding role that requires dignity and madness, superiority and frailty, feigned upper class elegance and down-in the gutter trash talking and she does them all with total conviction. Paul Westbrooks’ Al Pacino-type looks aids his swagger and boorish male bravado as he struts around the house showing off his physique, while occasionally allowing a softer side to embrace his Stella. But he’s a ticking time bomb whose masculinity should never be challenged. Marc Clement as Mitch represents a softer more sentient side of men and is charmingly played but he, too, quickly reverts back to the male stereotype when confronted with the truth about Blanche.
An ironic and fitting cameo has our Bakehouse hosts join the final scene to take Blanche away to some dreadful place where she and her kind will be hidden from society.
This was a great final act from The Bakehouse – all class to the end. Thank you, Bakehouse Theatre, for providing hundreds of hours of wonderful entertainment and offering thousands of Adelaide people the joy of live theatre from both sides of the curtain. You’ll be sadly missed. Vale old friend.
A Streetcar Named Desire continues at Bakehouse Theatre from 7.30pm until Sat 7 May. This show is SOLD OUT.