A Streetcar Named Desire
Silo Theatre, Auckland, NZ
August 25th, 2017
5/5 stars


“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”


If you can recall studying English at high school, you may remember the likes of Macbeth or To Kill a Mockingbird. For me, I can remember Tennessee William’s A Streetcar Named Desire. It evokes within me memories of writing essays, analysing its scenes and underlying themes.

A Streetcar Named Desire is one of the most influential plays to have ever existed. Despite it being over half a century old, there are many fundamentals which stay true to this day; a conflict between cultures, gender, sexuality, reality and fantasy.

Director Shane Bosher sets out to put forth William’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play at Auckland’s Q Theatre, presenting a diverse cast with powerful lines on a stage that opens the audience’s imagination, facilitated by incredible sounds, lighting and composition.

Set in New Orleans in the deep South, the play starts rather abruptly on stage as Blanche Dubois (Mia Blake – Angels in America, No.2) enters a neighbourhood she clearly doesn’t belong in looking for her sister, Stella Kowalski (Morgana O’Reilly – Neighbours, Housebound, Amadeus). The stage, with its stairs up to Stella’s neighbour Eunice Hubbell (Toni Potter – Shortland Street, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), bathroom and chairs is simple yet effective, offering all that is required to bring each scene to life.

The composition and sound, constant and acute, help to set the mood and facilitate the demise and disintegration of Blanche Dubois as she is forced to face the realities of her past in a world which is no longer. Blanche is in constant conflict with Stella’s partner Stanley Kowalski (Ryan O’Kane – Home & Away, Tangiwai), an image of authority and masculinity, in which not once was the wool pulled over his eyes.

Despite its three-hour length, each scene plays its part. The poker night, an image of pure masculinity and authority, and the visit from the paperboy (Arlo Green – Boys) give an accurate representation of Blanche’s current state. Eunice and her husband Steve Hubbell (Fasitua Amosa – Dirty Laundry, Auckland Daze) represent everything that Stella and Stanley can and do, play out to be. Mark Ruka (Cellfish, The Patriarch, The Rehearsal) as Mitch, a well-mannered gentleman offers Blanche an opportunity to let go of her tainted past, providing potential security and stability.

The transitions are handled well and the intermission, about three quarters through offers a chance to stretch the legs and get some fresh air. Every act of violence and terror, both to people and inanimate objects is performed with such precision and realism, the clean up between transitions quick and effective.

Bosher does a fantastic job of staying true to the original piece while showing aspects of modernity and present-day. The use of an Apple Mac laptop, an iPad and mobile phones, the addition of Adidas sneakers and dresses offering a modernistic approach to an enduring play.   

Mia Blake is amazing as Blanche Dubois and Morgana O’Reilly as Stella performs with emotion and realism as does her partner, Ryan O’Kane as Stanley, a great representation of masculine authority attempting to pull down both sisters off their columns. A disintegration of mind, family and society, every line by each actor is spoken with such sincerity and passion. 

An honest and powerful rendition of a true masterpiece, Bosher’s A Streetcar Named Desire offers a well-needed break from Netflix and this Trump era of ‘fake news’, a break from reality in which one can begin to question modern day society and progress (if any) since the days of Williams.


Please note: Contains scenes that depict sexual and domestic violence.


ALEX SAIFITI is a Commerce and Property student at the University of Auckland, crawling his way through university, asking the questions that hopefully matter and wondering if money is really the answer to his problems. Check out some more of his work for TEARAWAY:

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