Mr Majestic goes to the Ballet – A Street Car Named Desire
May 29, 2012 Chris Caldwell 0 Comments
While PastieBap was out being all cultured and watching the Ballet version of Street Car Named Desire at the Grand Opera House recently, who should we bump into but none other than Mental Deficiency’s own Mr Majestic AKA Kieran Majury who kindly offered to review said Ballet, OK we said….
This was my first time to ballet. It was in Belfast’s Grand Opera House, another first. I had the advantage of knowing the Tennessee Williams’ play Street Car Named Desire, what I wasn’t expecting was how well the Scottish Ballet would adapt the play that even someone with no knowledge of the text could follow. They took incidents from the play that are alluded to and expanded upon them, ordering them chronologically so that the piece is firmly Blanche’s story rather than it being a two hander between Blanche and Stanley.
The opening was exemplary in it’s visual clarity showing Blanche’s failed marriage, the demise of her family, her descent into alcoholism and degradation. Eve Musto was skilled in taking Blanche’s characteristics and making them physical, her dancing was delicate and graceful, a stark contrast to the dancing style of Tama Barry’s Stanley, aggressive and abrupt. Adam Blyde as Mitch was especially good as he had the task of deliberately dancing badly to come across as clumsy, awkward and by that extension less of a man than Stanley. Another aspect the production managed to carry off very well was making Blanche a sympathetic character. In any production, including the Elia Kazan film adaptation, Blanche always comes across as delusional, conceited and unwilling to tell the truth when confronted about her past. In the ballet she is a fragile character thrust unwillingly into a rough world who, constantly reminded of the past can only escape through alcohol. The harshness and lack of understanding she experiences because of this makes her fate all the more poignant. The music throughout was simple and minimalist, never becoming overbearing as was the stage design.
There were certain aspects that I found problematic. Having used the dance to express love making between Stanley and Stella to such good effect it was a shame that the rape scene was so literal. It could be argued that the literalness of the rape is what finally brings Blanche into the real world but having used the metaphor of the dance throughout it seems like a misstep to have them dry thrusting against one another. Being based on such an iconic text they succumbed to the pressure of having Stanley shout “Stella!” I felt that they didn’t need the exclamation as there had been no words up until this point and aside from “Flores para los muertas” there were no others. These two missteps did nothing to sully the enjoyment overall, this was a brilliant production. It was my first time at the ballet, it will not be my last.