(Benedict Nightingale's review appeared in The Times of London, July 29.)

A Streetcar Named Desire, Donmar, WC2

Let me be ungentlemanly enough to be gentlemanly about Rachel Weisz. Her performance as the cracked belle at the centre of Tennessee Williams’s great play is so impressive that I must point out that in one vital respect she’s miscast. Why does her Blanche DuBois feel impelled to hide her age and her looks from anyone, least of all the nice but dim suitor played by Barnaby Kay? Even when she’s clinging precariously to the remnants of her sanity this gorgeous, gifted actress is a bright light in a dark world.

Yet, really, why not? Blanche is in flight from everything: the loss of the family mansion pointedly called Belle Reve, the memory of her marriage to a suicidal gay man, her desperate nymphomania, small-town scandal, the loss of her job as a teacher, more. No wonder Weisz comes to her sister’s grotty New Orleans apartment so exhausted her face is almost more ashen than her dress, which is actually pure white.

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