A Streetcar Named Desire | Circle in the SandIt was hard to imagine ourselves in sultry New Orleans on a chilly Friday night in Perth, but Circle in the Sand did their best to make us believe it. This relatively newly-formed independent theatre company has chosen to produce one of theatre’s most attractive proving grounds, Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer-winning A Streetcar Named Desire. It’s a bold move for a new company; there are plenty of ways it could become a disaster, but this group managed to pull it off, under the capable direction of David Meadows.


The linchpin in most interpretations of Streetcar must be the actress who has the dubious distinction of playing Miss Blanche DuBois; she has to be strong enough to carry the whole weight of the play on her shoulders, yet be as vulnerable as a magnolia flower fallen from the tree. Circle in the Sand and Meadows have done well in casting Nichola Renton as their Blanche – she is just the right fit for this role. Her Blanche is dainty, stunted, desperate and deluded, dancing along the edge of something dreadful.

Her scenes with Blanche’s foe, Stanley Kowalski, here played by Adam T. Perkins, are good, and we see her struggle desperately to win him over, while Perkins as Stanley barely tolerates her presence in his home. But the scenes in which Renton really shines are those between her and Richard Mellick as Mitch. These two have the arduous task of presenting the birth and death of a love affair as a mere subplot in only three or four scenes, and they do it beautifully and heartbreakingly.

Perkins reminded me a lot of Harvey Keitel in his performance as Stanley – his particular brand of menace was subdued seething with sudden violent outbursts. Mellick as Mitch was very gentle, sweet and down-to-earth, the calm centre of an emotional storm happening around him, until the storm hits him too, that is. Hannah Day as Stella displayed an emotional connectedness in moments, but she seemed to struggle to find her character’s center. The cast was rounded out by fine performances Narelle Belle, Patrick Whitelaw and Daniel Buckle, and a cameo appearance by the director himself.

The space Circle in the Sand chose to stage this production in was quite unusual – Chrissie Parrott Arts is a former warehouse turned multi-functioning arts space which houses a gallery and a long second space which bills itself suitable for many different kinds of events. The result is that the stage was long and shallow, and only allowed for two long rows of seats for the audience around the stage. This made the performance quite intimate, and also offered not much chance for a quick getaway if you had to make one for any reason. Set, costumes and props were all gathered by various members of the production team and cast, and so had a bit of a hodge-podge feel. Lights were basic and adequate; everyone was lit, including the audience. Funnily enough, the place is located right next to a train line, so somehow the noise of the passing train worked.

This is a solid production of Streetcar, and a good indicator of the potential this company has in its hands. We can look forward to more from Circle in the Sand.


Circle in the Sand presemts
A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE
by Tennessee Williams

Director David Meadows

Venue: Chrissie Parrott Arts | 4 Sussex Street, Maylands, WA
Dates: May 18 – June 1, 2013
Tickets: $35 – $25
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