With Patricia Clarkson in A Streetcar Named Desire (Photo: Joan Marcus).
There are, however, moments of real poignance to be found in unexpected places here. Rothenberg‘s Stanley, while lacking the smoldering sexuality that famously marked Marlon Brando’s perf, never comes across as a mere brute, but as a canny, cagy fellow defending his turf — and a love that, for all the crudeness with which it is expressed, registers as a forceful rebuke to Blanche’s insistence on the supremacy of genteel modes of conduct. That maddening hurdle for any actor undertaking this role — Stanley’s anguished cries of “Stella!” — is cleared with ease here: It’s one of the production’s most touching moments, as Stanley prowls the apartment like a mad animal.
It’s exciting to see a relative unknown step up so confidently and capably to a role that has tripped up any number of more established performers. (London’s last two Stanleys — Iain Glen and Toby Stephens — come to mind.)