From what I have been told this production has broken box office records for a student show at the Oxford Playhouse so there is very little hope of you reading this review and being able to see for yourself. There just arent any tickets left.
Do the performances and direction live up to the hype that has surrounded the Playhouse this week?
The answer to this is only a qualified yes from me.
Certainly there are some very creditable performances. James Corrigan continues to impress with a muscular and clearly delineated portrayal of Stanley. Ruby Thomas also has many fine moments as the troubled Blanche she is a capable young actor who is certain to continue to find work once her studies are completed. I was also impressed by Henry Faber who brings a touching reticence to the role of Mitch.
One issue that the cast have had to overcome is that of the accent. Williams makes very specific demands on actors in terms of accent and style. It is clear that the team has worked hard to meet those requirements but by doing do they have let clarity of diction and projection suffer. All too often words are lost due to attempting the Southern drawl, by speaking too quickly or by failing to project adequately. This is often the way with less experienced actors but something they should all work on for future productions.
Anna Hextall seems to have taken a somewhat of a hands-off approach with her direction of the piece. Certain scenes are too static and lack the emotional intensity that the script demands. She has certainly drawn some good performances from her cast but I would have liked a little more tightness overall.
The same can be said for some of the technical and design elements. The transitions between the scenes are just too long. Some are covered by music, others not for no apparent reason. As a result the audience loses concentration and the pace of the performance starts to drag a little. The set is, on the whole, well designed and constructed but there are a few elements which lack the necessary attention to period detail.
So all in all, this is a very creditable piece of student theatre with a talented cast. It is not perfect but then it would be wrong to expect that from such a young group of performers. If you could have got tickets, I would have suggested you go along but under the circumstances, you will just have to take my word for it.