Scottish Ballet: A Streetcar Named Desire

Given the choice, dance isn’t top of my theatre-going agenda.

I find traditional ballet is usually stuffy, keeping me at arm’s length, while the often abstract nature of modern dance asks me to take large leaps, and I’m not always willing or able to oblige on a tired Tuesday evening.

But the burgeoning movement of contemporary narrative dance has captured my heart.

I’ve followed Matthew Bourne‘s work for years – and can honestly say his Edward Scissorhands single-handedly changed my perceptions of dance performance.

It is ballet, but many other things besides – and in case you were wondering, Tim Burton’s fairy tale suits dance beautifully [just imagine a dancer’s flying leap into Edward’s mesmerizing, garden-shear arms…]

Few performances of any variety echo in my head the way this one has months and even years later, so I was heartened to hear Scottish Ballet developed a performance of a similar ilk for this year’s anniversary of A Streetcar Named Desire. Here is a short preview:

Now, my only experience of the play to date was Marlon Brando posters and that amazing musical episode of The Simpsons.

I don’t quite know what I had expected going in, but it was visceral and heartbreaking.

While the production had its flaws, the design was impeccable and sheer physicality of the unfolding plot and its seething characters came across beautifully.

Here is one story that was almost made for the raw emotion of writhing bodies. I never thought I’d say this, but metaphorical ballet sex can be truly, terrifyingly, achingly real.

I can’t say I loved it – anything so depressing is hard to love, but there were some stunning performances and the bluesy jazz score set things off wonderfully [who doesn’t love a little Ella on a Saturday night?].

It was an ambitious piece of work and while I wouldn’t agree with every five-star review, I’m glad we went – and I’d certainly recommend it, even to my fellow dance-skepticals.

If you live in London, Belfast, Inverness or Aberdeen I’d encourage you to see what you think [you can book tickets here], I’d love to hear your thoughts.


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