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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Theatre: A Streetcar Named Desire - Donmar Warehouse, Covent Garden
Star rating - 8/10

My first ever trip to the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden was a hot and sultry affair - both the famous Tennessee Williams' play, and the temperature in the theatre. I wasn't really sure if that was a regular feature here, or just a special effect to make us feel we were in the Deep South, although I suspect it was the former. The play completely lived up to its four star reviews. It was full of drama, passion, and lives wasted or gone tragically wrong. Rachel Weisz, playing the washed up heroine of the piece, Blanche DuBois, was stunningly good. Rachel Wilson as her put upon little sister Stella, was also excellent, and looked a good deal more attractive than she had done when playing Jayne Ayre on TV, although I suppose that was to be expected.

The role of Stanley, Stella's husband, was played by Elliot Cowan. When watching the play I felt that he was not attacking the role enough or playing it with the force it needed (not really living up to the wonderful Marlon Brando film version of the character). When I subsequently remembered that he had put in a magnificent performance as Henry V at the Royal Exchange in Manchester about a year ago, I was surprised by this seeming relative lack of spirit here. Maybe it has something to do with having to act with a southern American accent. I have to say that I would find it very off putting as an actor to have to concentrate so hard on getting the accent right and not just on the lines and the drama of the play. That might explain it - but then I am not an actor so who am I to say?

I must also mention the wonderful Daniela Nardini (yes - Anna from This Life) was great as the neighbour upstairs. And it did give me a certain amount of guilty pleasure to note that however sexy and gorgeous she was as Anna, she is still facing the same mid life physical deterioration as the rest of us (although obviously still gorgeous) - had to mention that...

Overall then a wonderful play that left me drained and all my emotions awakened. A particularly brutal but necessary scene aside, it is a wonderful play, wonderfully acted, that left me feeling sad but better about the world - which to me is sort of the whole point.

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