New York - The Famous play written in 1947 by Tennesse Williams is back on Broadway. The original production opened at the Shubert Theatre on December 3rd 1947 and was directed by Elia Kazan. It is hard to imagine a performance that could match that of Marlon Brando. The latter developed and refined the character of Stanley in such a specific and personal way that it bares no comparisons. He added his own touch: in 1947, during rehearsals, Marlon, who had been cast after a mere staged reading (one that Mr. Kazan had qualified as "sensational"), took tremendous liberties on stage and embodied his character following his instincts. His character’s bold sexuality turned him into an object of desire for both his wife Stella and for Blanche. Playing the part of Stanley on Broadway and on screen in 1951, propelled Brando’s career (and turned him into the epitomy of the American sex symbol.).
Brando took many liberties with the role and exposed the child-like vulnerability of his character with the famous line ‘ Hey Stella ! ‘. Today, the actor Blair Underwood took Brando’s place, and gave a remarkable performance. Even though Brando’s charisma is often missed, Mr. Underwood displayed a great deal of specificity in his work. Blanche too, played by Nicole Ari Parker, is much different than that of Vivien Leigh or Jessica Tandy, and yet she is rather breathtaking. I have rarely ever seen an actress shape her character with such a daring mix of madness and playfulness. While Vivien Leigh seemed a coquettish and yet tormented princess, Ms. Parker knows how to touch the audience with a madness that is full of honesty and courage; and in doing so, she does not elude the character’s neurotic phobias. Therefore, in my eyes, the most notable part of the performance is her character’s evolution throughout the play. Blanche’s complexity creates an atmosphere of mystery that keeps audience members at the edge of their seat.
Emily Mann’s directing is simple, respectful of Mr. Williams stage directions and, overall, works in accord with the play. The cast composed of mostly African American actors, Jazz musicians and dancers gives a joyful and very “Broadway-like” aspect to the play. It is a far better production than that which Mr. Warlikowski presented at the “Theatre de L’Odeon” in Paris. Under the pretext of avant-gardism the play became choppy. The music of Mr. Warlikowski ’s play diffused and tempered the dramatic tension that the actors had built up. Isabelle Hupert especially, particularly in the monologue where she reveals how she truly feels about Stanley to her sister: Huppert, alone in center stage, breaks down as she describes Stanley’s beastly nature.
Lifestyle - Spectacle
by Margaux Bazzali | Sunday, 20 May 2012