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NT Live (YouTube) review: A Streetcar Named Desire

A Streetcar Named Desire, National Theatre Live (YouTube) until May 28.

Gillian Anderson is really rather magnificent - as well as tragic - in her portrayal of Blanche Dubois, the Southern belle in this raw 1940s play.

Blanche has grown up in a once grand mansion which has gradually crumbled around her, and she and younger sister Stella (Vanessa Kirby) have embark on very different futures. Out of the blue, Blanche seeks out Stella who lives at what sounds like a fine address: Elysian Fields, in the French quarter of New Orleans.

Of course, it's anything but a fancy area, leaving Blanche in little doubt that her sister is desperate to get away from life with her uncultured husband Stanley (Ben Foster) and his poker-playing pals who don't automatically feel the need to stand up when a lady enters the room.

But nobody is going anywhere - certainly not Blanche, who has fine pretensions but no money; certainly not Stella, who loves Stanley; and definitely not Stanley who knows that behind his back he's being compared to an ape.

He also harbours the suspicion this fancy sister-in-law is not all she seems and has cheated them.

In this revolving live stage production with poignant contemporary music, Anderson masters the Southern drawl, throws back the whisky and at all times commands our attention.

Can she be saved by the naive Mitch (Corey Johnson)? Is he the cleft in the rock of the world that Blanche can hide in?

Or must she rely, as ever, on the kindness of strangers?

A revival well worth taking the time to watch, if only for Anderson's performance.

For what's coming next in the National Theatre Live series free on YouTube, see our News pages.

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