Glenn Close opens tonight, 8 October 2002, in Trevor Nunn's much-anticipated revival of Tennessee Williams' American stage classic A Streetcar Named Desire. The production, which has a sold-out season to 23 November in the NT Lyttelton, marks the British stage debut of the Hollywood star, playing Blanche Dubois to and Briton Iain Glen's Stanley Kowalski.

Blanche, a faded and fragile Southern belle, arrives to visit her younger sister Stella, now living in a seedy district of New Orleans. Blanche is near the end of a downhill path in her life, but she comes repeatedly into confrontation with Stella's sexually aggressive husband, Stanley, whose coarseness both offends and attracts her educated sensitivity. As jazz from the local bars blares through the night, tensions rise to an inevitable breaking point.

Written in 1947, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play of A Streetcar Named Desire was immortalised in the Oscar-winning 1951 film which starred Vivien Leigh and Marlon Brando. Williams' many other plays, considered masterpieces of the 20th century, include The Glass Menagerie, Suddenly Last Summer and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Glenn Close's prolific career on stage and screen has won her international acclaim and many awards. Her landmark films include The World According to Garp, The Big Chill, The Natural, Jagged Edge, Fatal Attraction, Dangerous Liaisons, Hamlet and 101 Dalmatians. On stage, her Broadway/off-Broadway credits include Rex, Barnum, The Real Thing (Tony Award), The Singular Life of Albert Nobbs (Obie Award), Benefactors, Death and the Maiden (Tony Award) and Sunset Boulevard (Tony Award).

Iain Glen makes his National Theatre debut as Stanley. His recent stage credits include The Blue Room, at the Donmar and on Broadway with Nicole Kidman, Martin Guerre (West End) and the title role in Henry V (RSC). On film, Glen has appeared in Tombraider, Fools of Fortune and Mountains of the Moon (Evening Standard Award for Best Actor).

Trevor Nunn, the outgoing artistic director of the National, previously directed Close in Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles and New York. A Streetcar Named Desire is designed by Bunny Christie, with lighting by Paul Pyant and sound by Paul Groothuis.

- by Terri Paddock