Sunday, August 15, 2010

Free Rain: A Streetcar Named Desire

Another sound local production, woefully undersubscribed.  On a Saturday night, no less, and the theatre perhaps a third full, or less.  Perhaps the Canberra locals filled up last year on the STC production? Jordan Best isn't Cate Blanchette, but she does a decent job as Blanche, hanging on to the right accent throughout. She's not helped, though, by some poor costuming choices, which make her look like a old-fashioned maths teacher instead of a dainty, showy, fading belle.  And having failed to create that impression in the initial scenes, it's an uphill battle thereafter - especially as Mitch (otherwise played well, by Sam Hannan-Morrow) also isn't physically as described in his own dialogue.  Steph Roberts is an engaging Stella, though her accent tends to slip, and Chris Zuber is a serviceable Stanley, with an admirable set of abs and guns, if not quite that primal Brando charisma the role really calls for.  There is a great little cameo from Brendan Kelly as a paperboy who narrowly escapes Blanche's clutches, and Miriam Rosalky did a flawless job of the small role of Eunice Hubbel.

I do really want to compliment Free Rain on the set by Erin Pugh & Patrick Howe, too.  Not many small companies here in Canberra do really good sets (Canberra Rep being a notable exception), but this was one of them, and it really lifted the production.  This is the third FR production I've seen this year - the first was Singing In The Rain, a great show badly let down by a truly dreadful set, and then The Importance of Being Earnest at the Courtyard, where the set was an elegant sufficiency - so good to see an upward trajectory.

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