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Review of Inverness theatre group The Florians' production of American classic A Streetcar Named Desire which delivers a 'huge emotional impact'

By Margaret Chrystall

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The Florians – A Streetcar Named Desire

Little Theatre, Inverness

5 stars

Anyone who loves drama and craves the chance to see a classic American 20th century drama – there are still two chances to book tickets to see The Florians stage A Streetcar Named Desire.

The Florians – from left – David Saunders, Rosalyn Paton, Simon Lyall and Alison Ozog.
The Florians – from left – David Saunders, Rosalyn Paton, Simon Lyall and Alison Ozog.

The Tennessee Williams play may well bring you to tears, stir up a raging fury, probably also an overwhelming sense of pity and – almost inevitably – a realisation how far our attitudes to women’s rights, misogyny, domestic violence and rape have moved since the late 1940s. Thank God.

But this is a production that will keep you hanging on every word, and a cast that make the playwright’s set of difficult, hard to love central characters into flesh and blood humans with messy lives – and at war with each other in their search for love, happiness and survival.

Stanley Kowalski (Simon Lyall), a macho, poker-playing husband in love with his wife Stella (Rosalyn Paton), is living his perfect life in an urban New Orleans suburb, when his sister-in-law Blanche Dubois (Alison Ozog), a faded southern belle with no money, job or partner - but a lot of secrets and lies - washes up at their apartment to stay and finds fault with its meanness, Stanley’s ‘common’ ways and her sister’s shabby life after their childhood at a grand plantation home now lost to debt back in Mississippi. Stanley’s friend Mitch (David Saunders) is smitten with Blanche, the two might partner up, but Stanley digs dirt up on Blanche and tips her fragile mental health over the edge.

Class and post-war America’s changing values, are just two of the many factors that set Stanley and Blanche on a collision course. Watching actors Simon Lyall and Alison Ozog play out the story is a mesmerising experience. David Saunders and Rosalyn Paton’s performances add to the intensity of the play. But smaller roles – such as the chilling Mexican woman offering her flowers for the dead to the audience and the stern nurse controlling Blanche at the play’s close, both played by Michelle Grover – were just as well cast. Spot-on accents worked along with authentic-looking props, costumes and soundtrack (impact comes from atmospheric music including Paper Moon and the sinister The Varsouviana Waltz that ties Blanche to her past tragedy) all added to the nightmare world.

One small niggle, perhaps, is the slightly fiddly arrangement in the small theatre of the exterior door that leads outside which is in the script and which the technical team have done their best to ingeniously and almost convincingly accommodats.

But bringing this play’s power off the page and morphing it into a huge emotional impact, is the biggest challenge of A Streetcar Named Desire and that The Florians courageously deliver.

Tickets and info: https://www.florians.org.uk/

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