It's time for my mini-reviews of A Streetcar Named Desire, The Importance of Being Earnest and Memphis!
A Streetcar Named Desire
"This renowned drama follows troubled former schoolteacher Blanche DuBois as she leaves small-town Mississippi and moves in with her sister, Stella Kowalski, and her husband, Stanley, in New Orleans. Blanche's flirtatious Southern-belle presence causes problems for Stella and Stanley, who already have a volatile relationship, leading to even greater conflict in the Kowalski household."
This production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which first debuted in 2015, has a number of remarkable qualities; the most striking element however was the show's stellar cast, led by Gillian Anderson in the role of Blanche DuBois. Anderson delivered a truly captivating performance, putting boundless amounts of energy into her performance from beginning to end. A special mention must also be awarded to Vanessa Kirby, as Stella Kowalski, who likewise gave a remarkable performance. The play has an interesting story to it, and the play's focal character of Blanche makes for a unique protagonist. In spite of the fact that Blanche isn't instantly likeable, she really develops as the play goes on, and you can't help but sympathise with her position by the very end. The scenic design of this production, by Magda Willi, is also worthy of praise, and proved to be rather impressive.
A Streetcar Named Desire can no longer be watched on YouTube for free.
The Importance of Being Earnest
"Two bachelor friends, upper crust dandy Algernon Moncrieff and the most reliable John Worthing J.P., lead double lives to court the attentions of the desirable Gwendolyn Fairfax and Cecily Cardew. The gallants must then grapple with the uproarious consequences of their ruse, and with the formidable Lady Bracknell."
The Importance of Being Earnest is a play that I am very much familiar with; I had previously seen the UK tour in 2015, before viewing an abridged version of it on a cruise ship a number of years ago. As a result, I know the story quite well, and it was interesting to see another interpretation of it. The show follows a fun concept, making use of comical misunderstandings and farcical elements, as well as witty dialogue throughout. The strongest performances of this particular production came from Pippa Nixon, as Gwendolen Fairfax, and Fiona Button, as Cecily Cardew; both of which were excellent. Nixon and Button really struck a perfect balance between believable characterisation and effective comedy, delivering outstanding performances in the process.
The Important of Being Earnest can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): The Importance of Being Earnest.
"Featuring an original score with gospel, rhythm & blues, and early rock 'n' roll fused with Byran’s own contemporary sensibility, Memphis follows the fictionalized life story of young, white radio disc jockey Huey Calhoon growing up in Memphis, Tennessee in the 1950’s. An unlikely hero with a great love of the music he hears in the black bars on Beale Street, Huey’s on-air antics and unstoppable enthusiasm for 'race records' creates a new white audience for African-American music. His personal life transcends the race line as well, when he falls in love with a beautiful black singer - with dramatic consequences."
I had previously seen the West End production of Memphis a number of years ago and adored it, so I was beyond thrilled to have the chance to watch the Broadway production. Memphis has a truly inspiring story, and it's gripping from beginning to end. The main character of Huey Calhoun is particularly compelling; the way his moral compass guides him throughout in order to bring about a more tolerant society is really moving, and his character development is excellently portrayed. The musical score, by David Bryan and Joe DiPietro, is yet another reason to admire Memphis. It primarily features soul music, all of which is masterful. The cast were all remarkable, and there really was not one weak link among the principal cast. Each and every performer was a triple threat, with excellent acting abilities, strong vocals and extraordinary dancing.
Memphis can be watched on BroadwayHD here (please note that a subscription is needed in order to view): Memphis.
Thanks for reading!
-The Basic Theatre Reviewer