A Streetcar Named Desire, Donmar Warehouse, London
Thursday 30 July 2009
I don't want realism, I want magic," cries Blanche DuBois in Tennessee Williams's 1947 New Orleans masterpiece of broken dreams and tragic collapse, and she speaks for anyone who ever entered a theatre.
Rachel Weisz strikes a resonating cord as Blanche, the disgraced teacher and alcoholic young widow who has washed up on her sister's front door in the Elysian Fields district, seeking shelter and possibly a new life.
No heroine ever started like this at rock bottom and stayed there for three hours while she deals with the advances of her sister's vengeful husband, Stanley Kowalski, and fights her demons. She was married to a very young boy who blew his brains out when she found him in the embrace of an older man.
Yup, it's very advanced this play in its almost metaphorical sexual ambiguity and director Rob Ashford – who's really best known as a choreographer – has filled in a ghostly mime show of the dead boy and his lover, the lurking medical staff and the flower seller .
The good thing is that Weisz is so aptly young. Williams specifies her age as about 30, and her sister Stella, beautifully played here by Ruth Wilson, as 25-ish.
The big shadow is cast by Marlon Brando in the film as Stanley, the greasy son of Polish immigrants. At the Donmar, Elliot Cowan goes down the wrong Olympian athlete route beaten by Iain Glen at the National seven years ago playing opposite a brilliant but unarguably over-age Glenn Close.
And Cowan is simply too English, too public school even, too Mr Darcy, a role he played on television in the Jane Austen send-up recently.
Weisz starts vague and wispy, with that glinting, cunning deceptiveness of the dedicated drinker, but she misses an awful lot of the role's cutting cruelty and sheer drag-queen bitchiness. The line with the telephone – "I can't dial, honey" – is lost upstage. But she finds real pathos in her temporary berth with the dogged, domesticated Mitch (Barnaby Kay): "Sometimes, there's God, so quickly."
This Streetcar's qualities lie not so much in performance as in the revelation of a still ground-breaking dramatic, almost filmic, deliquescent structure and poetry.
To 3 October (0870 060 6624; www.donmarwarehouse.com)
Is the comedy album making a comeback?comedy
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 'Women should not laugh in public,' says Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister in morality speech
- 2 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 3 Is Ebola coming to Britain? UK health officials issue warning to doctors as outbreak fears grow
- 4 Richard Dawkins says 'date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse' on Twitter
- 5 Danish TV reporter is all business up top, all party down below
'Phallic symbols' found hidden in famous Pre-Raphaelite painting 'Isabella' by John Everett Millais
Top Gear Burma episode breached Ofcom rules over Jeremy Clarkson's racial slur
Freddie Prinze Jr on 24: 'Kiefer Sutherland was the most unprofessional dude in the world – I hated every moment of it'
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies trailer unveiled at Comic-Con
How did our legends really begin?
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
A new Russian revolution: The cracks are starting to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
- < Previous
- Next >