The Glass Menagerie


What will it be like this time?

Indeed, it is a play done over and over again but this masterpiece created by Tennessee Williams always provides an opportunity for artistic license. Directed by John Tiffany, with the help of Steven Hoggett (movement director), he created a piece of theatre that was very gentle but at the same time filled with many little moments of perfection to enjoy.

Although it was Williams’ first play, The Glass Menagerie is what put him onto the world map. Described as a memory play, the protagonist, Tom begins to narrate the scene, explaining and enhancing our knowledge of both his mother and sister. Amanda (Cherry Jones) is a faded Southern belle who shares an apartment with her son Tom and her daughter Laura, in St. Louis. Laura, played by Kate O’Flynn, has previously suffered from polio and walks with a limp; leading her to feel very insecure about joining normal life. Amanda becomes obsessed with finding a gentleman caller (Jim) for her daughter, who is unable to integrate into society and spends most of her time playing with her collection of glass animals.

Memories aren’t necessarily accurate as Tom forewarns the audience in his initially soliloquy. However, I must admit that initially I felt like perhaps Michael Esper (who plays Tom) had forgotten how to do a convincing American accent.

Therefore, I had some sympathy with the gentleman and his wife sat next to me, who had already begun to drift off. Suddenly, the usage of physical theatre in the first act struck a cord and I was fixated on the objectives behind the movement sequences. Each actor impressively used their body to express the distress, curiosity, lust and excitement many of them experience throughout the play.

However, Cherry Jones, being an experienced older actor carried the show. Amanda as a character is highly flamboyant yet fragile and Cherry pulled everything out the bag; she performed with such elegance it seemed so natural for her. It was a pleasure to giggle my way through her scenes, hoping that my chuckle would wake up the couple to my right.

It’s obvious I am a romantic and I got excited in Act 2 that (finally) there was a kiss. Oops – spoiler! But it’s okay, as its run has finished. Which brings me on to my favorite bit of the show. Both characters (Laura and Jim) have a beautifully delicate scene in which they share a moment of true honesty. Kate O’Flynn is phenomenal in portraying the awkward innocence of Laura when put in a situation of flattery. She was so incredibly believable and her emotions conveyed a sense of relief that perhaps she could be loved, that this moment captured the essence of human desires and feelings. Perhaps the message here is that we all naturally want to feel truly accepted and Laura experiences a little snippet of lust that had a far deeper intention.

Overall a good production accompanied by music and a very realistic set which helped the actors deliver meaningful performances.

Scene it Tip 1: Watch out for Kate O’Flynn as she was fantastic and definitely up and coming.

Scene it Tip 2: Always go see shows with an open mind.

Scene it Tip 3: Check out the history behind The Glass Menagerie.

Where’s my castle on the hill?

Yes Ed we did ‘YOLO’ it and buy tickets half an hour before you performed.

Who knew that scene that show could end up writing about none other than Ed Sheeran himself? I appreciate that going to watch his gigs is nothing like sitting through “The Cherry Orchard” but there is still much to learn from this bestselling, world famous, yet ordinary guy.

Where did this all start? Most likely with a young teen and the gift of a guitar. You might be thinking, “Tor, where are you going with this?” Let me explain. If you’re feeling like giving up, choosing an easier path or comparing your level of success to others’. STOP!  All Ed had was a guitar and a hell of a lot ‘not giving a shit’. He started by busking… over and over. Until his A levels approached and  his infamous song “You need me, I don’t need you” began his journey to success.

What makes you think you can’t achieve what you desire? Barriers are only in your way because you put them there. If you stop caring about what people think; the possibilities become endless. It’s okay everyone- Even I get frustrated and upset (very frequently) that perhaps I have taken too many risks in pursing an acting career. “Uni-dropout” and “loose end” are two common words that repeat themselves in my head when I’m having an over-dramatic moment. The funny thing is it’s so easy to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. I am lucky enough to have loved ones around me who are always ready to tell me to stop being ridiculous and to instead, have faith and remember why I chose this path. Ed Sheeran said he dreamed of a loyal fan base, making a difference and being able to do what he loved. So transferring this ideology to acting- it seems ridiculous not to try, have failures or set backs and persevere at something you adore .  At least I can say “I gave it a bloody good go and have no regrets”.

But what defines a successful career? Money? A big house? Being a CEO? Fame? To be honest it’s obvious that there isn’t a right answer. Success means different things to everyone so you need to give up trying to compare your version to someone else’s. What’s my castle on the hill? It’s my desire to live to work. This might sound strange but it’s not hard to understand. All I could ever want is to wake up every day knowing that I am living my life through a job I love. Granted, performing is a way of life and it can be in all of us but sometimes it is just a little more prominent in others. I got given a gift of having many inspirational teachers in my life teaching me to strip back all the shit, the false impressions, the ‘trying too hard’ expressions and help me get back in touch with me.

What am I like as a performer? (Constantly giggling in serious rehearsals springs to mind). Ed Sheeran grew up young and learnt lessons on dedication and perseverance way before many of us have had to. Aged 17 he got asked the infamous question: “where do you see yourself in five years?” “Having a record that can spur on different emotions and hopefully something people can relate to”- Mate. You got all of that and more. Kudos to him for keeping up with the rejections and eventually deflecting the negative energy without even realising it. Negative energy on the road to success is a given, but we mustn’t let it phase us. It’ll only make our skin thicker and bring out the sexy badass inside all of us!

That brings me on to ‘What do I stand for?’ World peace, love and eternal happiness? Well yes- but that’s a little too hippy-like for what I am trying to say. I stand for diversity in the artistic industry and respecting everyone’s aspirations, be they far fetched or in your eyes unrealistic.  There’s no point in living a life sensibly with no time for a little dreaming.

So here I stand, proud to be saying that I am on the road to pursuing my ultimate dream. I will have no regrets because I had the courage to dare. I have been amazed at how fear of the unknown has actually motivated me more. Just when you get frightened that all your hard work hasn’t paid off; something amazing happens and you realise that somebody somewhere has seen your conviction and is rewarding you.

To all you budding performers out there if Ed Sheeran can go from busking on the street to playing gigs at the O2 who’s to say you can’t?

Scene it Tip 1: Audition for the National Youth Theatre (like Ed Sheeran)

Scene it Tip 2: Fail and laugh about it- Get rejected from RADA but come back stronger.

Scene it Tip 3: Go to gig you wouldn’t usually go to (in my case Stormzy). Go to workshops to meet new people and surround yourself with things that provoke your determination. There will always be people that will motivate and support you no matter what.

Scene it Tip 4: Most importantly- find out what your castle on the hill would be. P.s. It may well come from within you.