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The considerable talents of Marianne Elliott (who directed both the unmissable The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and War Horse) can’t disguise the fact that this 1959 Southern drama really isn’t Tennessee Williams at his best.

Even so, it was a celebrity magnet at its West End premiere in 1985 when movie legend Lauren Bacall took on the role of insecure, fading film star Alexandra del Lago (aka the Princess of Kosmonopolis) and now it’s former Sex and the City siren Kim Cattrall who’s looking for oblivion in the arms of gigolo and would-be actor Chance Wayne, a Gulf Coast drifter whose ambition and imagination far exceed his actual achievements.

She has wealth and, he believes, influence – both of which he means to deploy in an attempt to win back his childhood sweetheart, Heavenly, whose father wants him run out of town - or worse – after what he did to his daughter on his last visit.

Cattrall’s red-wigged Alexandra reveals the vulnerability of a pill-popping, gin-guzzling woman who believers her career is over (though one would expect anyone who wakes up with no idea of where she is to look considerably more raddled) and also demonstrates the imperious grandeur of a diva used to having things her own way.

Seth Numrich does a decent job as Chance, increasingly desperate and reluctantly coming to realise that, pushing thirty and with his hair starting to thin, his body won’t be in demand for ever.

But it’s only after their first over-long opening scene together that things really get interesting as Owen Roe’s red-faced, blustering, hypocritical Boss Finley (Heavenly’s father and local political bigwig) gives vent to his bigoted views and his racist plans to protect the purity of innocent white women. 

Old Vic, The Cut, SE1 8NB
Tube:-Waterloo
Until 31st August  
£11.00- £52.00
(some tickets for £12 bookable in advance for under 25’s)

oldvictheatre.com


Photo: Tristram Kenton


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Sweet Bird of Youth - review: Tennessee Williams' play starring Kim Cattrall, London
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