Blanchett's Blanche is an icon pushed to the edge of its pedestal. A perfect summation of the role for first-time Streetcar riders, to an old hand her extreme, frenetic approach—this Blanche is well on her way to breakdown from the start—explains the play's grip on pre-Stonewall gays, evoking decades of drag-queen appropriation of the role. (Cf., for instance, the "Miss Destiny" sections of John Rechy's City of Night.) Inventively (Scandinavianishly?), Ullmann has her stress Blanche's sense of shame, though unwisely letting her give in too easily, slackening the tension: You've never seen a Blanche struggle less with Stanley in the rape scene. The supporting cast is solid, as is Ullmann's production, for all its eccentricities, but this show is distinctly about the star, from her appearance in the opening moment to the omitted last line as she exits.

Mamet's post-Shavian law firm: Spader, Thomas, and Grier in Race
Robert J. Saferstein
Mamet's post-Shavian law firm: Spader, Thomas, and Grier in Race

Details

Race
By David Mamet
Barrymore Theatre
243 West 47th Street, 212-239-6200

This
By Melissa James Gibson
Playwrights Horizons
416 West 42nd Street, 212-279-4200

A Streetcar Named Desire
By Tennessee Williams
BAM Harvey Theater
651 Fulton Street, Brooklyn 718-636-4100

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