‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ Review: Paul Mescal Is Explosive in Rebecca Frecknall’s Staggering Revival

“I don’t want realism. I want magic!” Blanche’s famously desperate cry holds the key to most approaches to “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Productions of Tennessee

Williams’ masterpiece tend to chose one or the other: overemphasizing the sweat and grit of life with the Kowalskis or slavishly obeying Williams’s instructions to deliver

Blanche’s tragic, hope-filled reverie. But director Rebecca Frecknall’s hypnotic production goes for broke, slinging out almost all of Williams’ stage directions and

simultaneously delivering both. With Patsy Ferran and Paul Mescal in incandescent form, she brings the classic roaring back to electrifying life. Williams’s carefully

detailed, literal two-room apartment is never shown. Instead, heralding her entire approach, Frecknall opens the play in an expressionist whirlwind of fraught, choreographed

action on a bare, raised, in-the-round stage, topped off by a percussionist (Tom Penn), who is perched above and intermittently orchestrates and punctuates the proceedings. Only

when strictly essential, chairs and props (Blanche’s trunk, the radio) are handed over by actors prowling round the rim of the suitably cramped stage. Yet, enhanced by Lee

Curran’s cunning lighting, all the vital, fierce claustrophobia is communicated.