facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11

A Streetcar Named Desire

First Published 29 July 2009, Last Updated 18 March 2010

Let’s not make comparisons; Elliot Cowan is not Marlon Brando, nor should he be. He is, however, a sculpted, hulking powerhouse of a man whose bulging biceps, wide shoulders and emanating sense of unpredictable danger fill the Donmar Warehouse’s stage in this new production of A Streetcar Named Desire.

As the working class Stanley, he is as bestial as Rachel Weisz’s Blanche DuBois imagines him to be, yet Cowan also lends him an air of fragility. He really knows no better than what he does, and his love for Ruth Wilson’s Stella is palpable.

While all eyes were on the performance of Hollywood star Weisz as she returned to the London stage in the role of the Southern Belle who has fallen on hard times and is forced to downsize her life and move in with her sister and brother-in-law, the supporting cast caught the eye.

Wilson’s Stella, a willowy doll in the arms of her looming, sculpted husband, has her emotions shredded to raggedy pieces, moving from a nice line in wry humouring to uncontrollable anguish. Barnaby Kay’s unhappy suitor Mitch similarly sees his heart crushed and descends from the sweetest character in Williams’s play into a quivering wreck of a man whose moral compass has been demagnetised.

“I don’t want realism, I want magic,” Blanche famously exclaims as her fragile web of self-deceit collapses in the face of a storm. Director Rob Ashford clearly had that phrase in mind when brewing his ideas for the play. His roots as a choreographer are visible as Blanche is literally haunted by both her past and her imagination.

Weisz, a bustling, breathy, hysterical Blanche – rarely seen without a drink in hand – has a touch of Norma Desmond about her, descending a spiral staircase in a bright red bathrobe fitting of any femme fatale, and hints at a decaying fairytale princess or a young Miss Havisham in the dress and tiara worn for the final shocking showdown with Stanley.

While the intimate Donmar auditorium brings the audience close enough to the action that they can smell Stanley’s sweat-soaked t-shirts, Christopher Oram’s design, dominated by a tall arching doorway, columns and that twisting staircase, lends the production a feeling of space. Adam Cork’s sound, encompassing dogs, soulful music, crickets, parties and the rumbling earth-tremors of the streetcars passing by, brings 1949 New Orleans to 2009 London.



Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.