Tennesee Williams’s masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire takes its audience on a theatrical ride every bit as rickety, ramshackle and uncomfortable as the New Orleans tram from which it took its name.

What begins as amusing, atmospheric and flirtatious rapidly descends into a cruel tale of greed, jealousy, violence and psychological fragmentation.

Southern belle Blanche DuBois (played here with breathtaking poise, charm and a surplus of manic energy by Kelly Gough) arrives at her sister Stella’s down-at-heel tenement in the French Quarter with all her worldly possessions stuffed into a suitcase. Despite a moneyed background, the family plantation has been lost – sold to pay off the debts accrued by dying relatives.

Stella (Amber James) has little, save her rough and macho husband Stanley, but it’s Blanche who must adjust to her new life, crashing out on a camp bed, tormented by ghosts of her own and by the brutish Stanley (a menacing, cocksure Patrick Knowles).

The acting is fabulous and it’s hard to believe this is not an American cast. Gough puts in a towering performance as a beautiful woman bursting with desire yet tortured by her past. James is wonderful as the feisty but brutalised Stella.

This production, flawlessly directed by Chelsea Walker, embraces its cinematic legacy while pushing forward into new territory – bringing the action into the present day (as far as the script allows). The set – a huge open sided box doubling for the housing block is striking, despite initial teething problems which saw the first night downgraded to a read-through.

A stunning score – Blondie’s Heart of Glass slowed down and speeded up as Blanche seduces a young delivery man (an athletic Joe Manjon) was particularly evocative.

A triumph then, which picks away at the consciousness long afterwards. The tour continues around the country. See it if you can.