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.