I saw Streetcar tonight / last night (I can’t sleep.) night of April 30. Here’s my review. About just the play itself because I may have had a minor heart attack due to someone who I noticed in the audience halfway through… But I’ve screamed about that elsewhere. Only have my phone and I suck at typing on it, so this might be a jumble, but wanted to get my thoughts down. And sorry if the formatting is screwy – had some technical difficulties but will edit later. Here are my two key takeaways: 1. I now want to watch Gillian Anderson and Ben Foster’s entire bodies of work. They were phenomenal. 2. I’m obsessed with the rotating stage and its choreography. How cool would it be to get to calculate how fast it would have to go for the balcony to line up when it needed to? (Yes, I’m a nerd, and am equally fascinated by these things as I am by the acting and other less behind-the-scenes things.) I guess they already had that figured out in London and then just had to replicate here.
- First, full disclosure that I have read this play and seen clips from the Marlon Brando movie and other productions, but this was my first time seeing it performed in its entirety. In other words, I don’t have a lot of points of comparison. Also, while I enjoy watching theatre, I am a total amateur fan. So basically I’m the opposite of a critic, just wanted to jot down my thoughts for myself, and know some of you may be interested in hearing about it (regardless of how uncouth I am.)
- I was really excited beforehand. Like, almost butterflies in my stomach. Went with a few friends and we met up for dinner first. We were hurried getting to the theatre due to a miscommunication at the restaurant but all’s well that ends well.
- St. Ann’s is a really cool space. Like hipster lobby area with bar, and then the theatre itself reminds me of my (small) college’s black box theatre – very basic, but the set for Streetcar makes full use of the space. There are two entrances and you walk steps from the set to get to your seats. Theatre staff, who were all very nice and attentive, stand around the set as you enter to deter you from jumping on stage and stealing Stanley’s liquor :) or Cheerios, which I noticed were also in the pantry (props to props for that and so many other things!)
- The show starts. First thing I notice is the lighting. A+ on that.
- Lots of laughs in the first act. Gillian Anderson & Ben Foster deliver lines perfectly and are just so in their characters.
- Vanessa Kirby’s acting is great too but her British accent slipped through at times pretty consistently throughout the whole thing, which took me out of it, unfortunately. As a non-native who lived in the south and still can’t do a southern accent, I can’t imagine how hard that accent is for a Brit though, so who am I to throw stones?
- I loved the music. The first music cue during the scene change was a little jarring (which was intentional) but then I was prepared. Other people kept startling when it happened though. Love love loved the music choices – from jazz to rock, it all worked. Going to have to try to remember them all or look them up or work thing.
- There’s not a bad seat in the house. I was hallway up on one of the large bleachers and it was still very close. Floor seats would be super cool because the actors are literally walking right in front of you.
- Relatedly, It’s a little Russian Roulette-y in that you don’t know when the timing of the rotating will be such that an actor will be performing right at you or that a doorway will block you view. This totally adds to the anxious nature of things and also reminds you that everything is temporary, which is both comforting and terrifying…kinda like the play as a whole. Really really cool.
- I have so many questions about the rotating stage. I think it paused when Blanche was showering, right? Was it always paused when running water was used? Did it spin one direction in the first act and the opposite direction in the second? I have the worst spatial memory.
- Act I was perfection. So many jokes perfectly delivered. I like jokes.
- Act II dragged just a bit. Not that I’m complaining about getting to see those actors for longer (see next point), but the pacing just seemed a little slower, even the rotational velocity speeds up, Which is confusing. And some of the best lines are in Act II. Stuff about people who haven’t seen sorrow and of course “I have always relied on the kindness of strangers” and others. Some lighthearted moments with flirting with the boy.
- In fact, so many times I wished I had multiple pairs of eyes so I could watch what was happening on both ends of the rotating rectangle (How do you describe things in a black box theater? Like, what is stage left relative to? The spinning set or the theatre space as a whole. I’m clueless. Please enlighten me.) but Basically I couldn’t decide who to look at. This was probably aided by the fact that it never hurts to have hot people. <br>
- besides the pacing, I *think* there were one or two missteps on lines (mispronouncing the first syllable of a word) but maybe all the character are drunk or hungover 24/7 so they’d probably stumble occasionally. I’ll have to check the script. Speaking of which…<br>
- Stanley + The Napoleonic Code = OTP
- I noticed Gillian’s reading of “I want. Magic.” Which I had read about and was like “that sounds like an awkward reading of it” but of course she pulled it off and I smiled. <br>
- You know how I know Gillian’s a good actor? Because that play made me sad. When reading the play, I was never really affected by it. It was kinda like “Oh haha, silly delusional Blanche” but seeing it – seeing her – I actually connected with the character in a way that isn’t really pleasant. “Shit, I could be Blanche. Goddamit, that’s depressing.” I’m not Blanche in that I’m a delusional wannabe beautify queen, but maybe I’m delusional in other ways… And I actually wonder what happens to Blanche after the play ends. I *care* about her, which disturbs me unto itself. And I just squirmed at the ending when they made a spectacle of escorting her out – they do a full very slow walk loop around the entire stage. <br>
- Moral of the story: holy shit, they do that how many times a week???!?<br>
- I’m totally sober but now I kinda want to cry. Please message / ask me about streetcar.
That feeling when you’re intently watching Gillian Anderson perform on stage and then you notice a Duchovny-esque figure on the opposite side of the theater in the audience and you think you’re seeing a mirage because this is too good to be true… but it’s real.
Gillian Anderson: Bringing Blanche to Brooklyn | Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Peter Stamelman, April 26, 2016
Recently, via email, the Brooklyn Eagle had a chance to catch up with the actress before the play’s opening night.
Eagle: Elia Kazan is quoted as having said “Tennessee [Williams] is Blanche.” What’s your take on that?
Gillian: From everything I’ve read about and seen of Tennessee, I would say that is likely! I think, however, his woven fantasy was on the page, rather than in life. But certainly that life bore the weight of tragedy, the bouts of alcoholism, the flamboyance, the vanity. Kazan saw that firsthand.
Eagle: I read in The Guardian that you told a London-based producer that “Streetcar” was the only play you were interested in appearing in and that you also stipulated that it be done in the round. Why?
GA: I have always felt very separate from the productions of “Streetcar” that I have seen and I yearned to be inside it as an audience member. Also, these characters are trapped in this moment of time in this one tiny apartment. How better to perpetuate the claustrophobia of their particular hell than to have it surrounded by an unseen, looming presence — the audience?
Eagle: I’ve also read that you deliberately have never seen Kazan’s film version of “Streetcar” and that you didn’t even allow yourself to watch “Blue Jasmine.”
GA: Well, I have seen bits of the film over the years, never in its entirety. As for “Blue Jasmine,” I will wait to see it until I’ve finished our run. I am so admiring of Cate Blanchett and I don’t want to think for a second that I am picking up on or emulating her work.
Eagle: You’ve played some iconic roles — Lilly Bart in “House of Mirth,” Nora in “A Doll’s House.” What attracted you at this point in your career to playing perhaps the iconic female role in American theater?
GA: It is clear to me now that, from the moment I first read Blanche on the page, something inside me said, “I know what that is!” Somehow, something in me recognized something in her and I became determined to play her. I cannot tell you definitively what that “something” was, except that she is so complex and her journey, whatever the truths or falsehoods of it, so easy to empathize with. And, of course, she meets such a devastatingly sad end.
Eagle: You’ve had, and continue to have, a diverse career, alternating work in film and television and theater, in the States and in England. Conscious choice?
GA: Yes! What a blessing to get do it all and on many continents! I am very lucky.
Eagle: Finally, this is the first time you have performed in Brooklyn. Do you know the borough at all? Have you spent any significant time in Brooklyn?
GA: I lived in New York for a short time in the ’90s, playing in off-Broadway productions. Of course, I have visited many, many times over the years. For some reason I always had in my mind that Brooklyn was Manhattan’s smaller suburb! I am so sorry! I had no idea Brooklyn was so big, that there are so many fantastic neighborhoods, all with very different personalities. I am very much enjoying the opportunity to explore and yet I’m gob-smacked at how long it takes to get from one point to another. Who knew?
Eagle: Well, if you happen to get lost, you can always rely on the kindness of Brooklynites to give you excellent directions.
In a rundown patch of Detroit, enclosed by a cyclone fence and barbed wire, stands an unremarkable warehouse that investment bank Goldman Sachs has transformed into a money-making machine.
The derelict neighborhood off Michigan Avenue is a sharp contrast to Goldman’s bustling skyscraper headquarters near Wall Street, but the two operations share one important element: management by the bank’s savvy financial professionals.
A string of warehouses in Detroit, most of them operated by Goldman, has stockpiled more than a million tonnes of the industrial metal aluminum, about a quarter of global reported inventories.
Simply storing all that metal generates tens of millions of dollars in rental revenues for Goldman every year.
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Analysts question why London’s metals market allows big financial players like Goldman to own the warehouses which store huge quantities of metal even as they trade the commodity. Robin Bhar, a veteran metals analyst at Credit Agricole in London says the conflict of interest is so acute he wants U.S. and European anti-trust regulators to weigh in.
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