6 August 2014

Date night with Gillian Anderson

A few things you should know about me.

1. I LOVE Gillian Anderson. Did you see The Fall? She rocked a silk shirt and a slutty-yet-disdainful look with serious aplomb.

2. Tennessee Williams is one of my favourite playwrights and I wrote my undergrad dissertation about his treatment of reality.

Because my husband is brilliant at remembering things like this, he booked us tickets to see A Streetcar Named Desire with Gillian Anderson at the Young Vic.

They were a gift for my birthday last year, when the play was yet to be scheduled. It recently opened to amazing reviews and has been called the hottest ticket of 2014. Top marks, husbo!

Off to London we pottered.

Streetcar is about two sisters from 1940s America - older sister Blanche is stuck in the world of gentlemen callers and faded glamour from the lost wealth of their youth, while little sister Stella throws herself in to modern city life with her brutish husband Stanley.

It was my first trip to the Young Vic, where you sit in a circle around a central stage.

We were  right at the front which meant that, when Gillian/Blanche made her entrance, I was worried she'd knock over my mojito.

But of course she didn't! She's a pro.

Director Benedict Andrews has brought the play up to modern day and, as events unfolded, the stage revolved so that everyone in the audience got a different perspective of the tiny New Orleans apartment.

It was so involving and so completely gripping that I realised I was watching with my hand half covering my face.

Gillian's Blanche was exactly how I'd imagined her to be when I first read the play. You know that weird mix of fragile and defiant? That's Blanche.

She's obsessed with her reflection and terrified that she's losing her looks. She's so desperate to be loved, to play the young deb, that this manic giggle bubbles out of her whenever she's around a 'suitor'. But she's also hell bent on re-writing her own history and future. You're watching her descent in to madness and it's frightening.

Gradually, Stanley makes her dream world come crashing down around her. I won't spoil the end because, even if you can't get to see this production, read the play or watch Marlon Brando as Stanley in the film from 1951.

I was sobbing at the end. This was kind of embarrassing because everyone else was busy doing the standing ovation thing.

Teary-eyed post-performance…

It was a complete privilege to be there and to have witnessed such an incredible performance. It was the best production I have ever seen with my eyes.

Here are some official pictures of the show, if you're keen.

We left in a bit of a daze, meandering along Southbank while discussing the play like intellectuals.

Then we got hungry.

So we stopped for some Greek food, polishing off flatbreads, dolmades, squid, lamb meatballs and a bottle of white for dinner.

A real treat of a day.


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