Christopher Walken portrays Harry Nash, a hardware store clerk who has achieved a degree of local celebrity due to his powerful performances in community theater. Yet when not on the stage or in a rehearsal, Harry retreats into an insecure and painfully shy personality. He remains unsocial most of the time. The story is set in motion when Helene Shaw (Susan Sarandon), a woman intending to stay in town for only a few weeks, is talked into auditioning for the role of Stella, opposite Harry's Stanley Kowalski in a production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Ignoring warnings of Harry's introverted personality, Helene falls in love with Harry's "Stanley" persona, and mistakes his cluelessness and shyness for rejection. This results in a clumsy and uneven performance on the second night of the play, but Helene bounces back in time for closing night, due to an inspiration; her closing-night gift to Harry is a copy of Romeo and Juliet. Harry and Helene find that they can pursue a relationship by reciting stage romances to each other, and the story ends with him proposing in character, from a scene in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.