A Streetcar Named Desire – reviews of ‘radical' revival

Jul 30, 2014

Critics praise Gillian Anderson's ‘stellar' performance as tormented Southern belle in updated Williams classic

Johan Persson
What you need to know

A revival of Tennessee Williams's modern classic A Streetcar Named Desire, has opened at the Young Vic theatre, London. American actress Gillian Anderson (The Fall, X-Files) stars in the new production of Williams's Pulitzer-prize winning 1947 play directed by Benedict Andrews.

It tells the story of fading Southern belle, Blanche DuBois (Anderson), who has fallen on hard times and comes to live with her sister Stella and Stella's volatile working-class husband Stanley. Gradually Blanche's pretensions begin to unravel and she descends into a world of delusion.

Co-stars Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella. Runs until 19 September.

What the critics like

Gillian Anderson gives the performance of her career as Blanche in this "shattering production of Tennessee Williams's bruising modern classic", says Charles Spencer in the Daily Telegraph. She devastatingly captures a woman reaching the end of her rope, but all the performances are superb – it's an absolute knock-out.

"Anderson gives a stellar performance" as Blanche in this powerful production, says Michael Billington in The Guardian. While director Benedict Andrews gives the play a radical new twist by keeping the acting space in perpetual motion on a revolving stage.

A Streetcar Named Desire remains an American classic, and "Andrews rightly approaches it with gravitas and grit", says Stephen Dalton in the Hollywood Reporter. And top marks to Anderson, "who gives great diva and appears to enjoy every minute of it".

What they don't like

"The shifting focus sometimes becomes a distraction and makes the dialogue hard to hear," says Michael Billington in The Guardian. At other times the rotating stage works well, but it is more important that the play rather than the stage should be moving.

Sign up for our daily newsletter