A Streetcar Named Desire

Having previously seen an outstanding Georgian language version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm by the Tumanisvili Film Actors Theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2014, in which the revolutionary themes were imbued with new significance, the company’s take on Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, promises much. In this performance, the company was very keen to leave the audience in no doubt that, despite being delivered entirely in Georgian, the English surtitles were all Tennessee Williams’ own words, down to ‘every comma, every dash’.

There are some interesting and effective directorial choices evident in the production.

In the company’s trademark style, the sensory aesthetics of the piece are very important, and are foregrounded in this production with the swift establishment of a running motif of soft jazz saxophone music underscoring particular moments of importance. With profile shadows of the musicians appearing from behind a white screen alongside their music, the production receives an opulence perhaps reflective of protagonist Blanche DuBois, played by Nineli Chankvetadze, though seemingly at odds with much of the confrontational nature of a large part of the play. On top of this, sounds of trains arise now and then, reminding us of the broader world around the microcosmic setting of Stella and Stanley’s home.

There are some interesting and effective directorial choices evident in the production, with the use of a gentle tripartite split-screen, in which the actors’ voices could still be heard (though as if the volume had been turned down), a nice touch in several scenes as a way of maintaining the softly undulating nature of the transitions. Likewise, the acting of the lead performers is very creditable, with Imeda Arabuli showing great versatility in his, at first affectionate, and then intimidating portrayal of Stanley Kowalski. The character of Stanley is given special prominence by the Georgian group, as his frustration at being termed a ‘Polack’, despite being raised in America, speaks to modern concerns over social perspectives on immigration.

Surprisingly, given the somewhat forceful insistence provided to the contrary, the surtitles did contain more than the occasional error, and also experienced some technical difficulties during this performance, much to the chagrin of the directorial team, who began their arguments between themselves somewhat untactfully before the audience had left. Though not a huge problem in itself, these issues did detract from the many good things happening on stage, leading to much of the post-show discussion focusing on the antics of some of the company rather than on this interpretation of the classic play.

Reviews by Joshua Clarke


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The Blurb

Tennessee Williams’ Pulitzer Prize-winning Streetcar is sublimely realised by Giorgia’s iconic, multi award-winning, Tumanishvilli Film Actor’s Company of Tbilisi. (Animal Farm, The Bald Soprano, A Midsummer Night’s Dream). The brilliant Keti Dolidze (Self-Portrait of My Generation) directs the fragile and fumbling personalities with ‘a breathtaking ease and grace’ in one of the greatest plays of all time. (NB: Performed in Giorgian with English Subtitles). Winner: Stage Award Best Ensemble 2014 (Animal Farm). ‘This is what theatre should be’ ***** (BritishTheatreGuide.info).

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