4. THE GLASS MENAGERIE

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RICHARD MAYS

Clas­sic play The Glass Menagerie opened in The Globe last week.

The Glass Menagerie by Ten­nessee Wil­liams Di­rected by Ian Har­man Globe Theatre Septem­ber 2 - 17

Sub­lime - this haunt­ing clas­sic has met its match in this out­stand­ing pro­duc­tion.

In ex­e­cu­tion, look and tone, direc­tor Ian Har­man and his four ac­tors cap­ture and re­flect the char­ac­ter and essence of this evoca­tive and po­etic ‘‘mem­ory’’ play.

Set dur­ing the lat­ter half of the 1930s as Amer­ica clawed its way out of the Great De­pres­sion, The Glass Menagerie was play­wright Ten­nessee Wil­liams’ break­through piece.

Mum Amanda Wing­field, a faded south­ern belle is holed up in a down-atheel St Louis apart­ment with her two grown chil­dren af­ter be­ing de­serted by by a foot­loose hus­band.

Tom, the nar­ra­tor, played with just the right level of stoic as­sur­ance and re­gret by Sam Gor­don, is the re­luc­tant bread­win­ner. While his mother dab­bles at tele­phone sales, and re­gales her chil­dren with rose-tinted tales of her teenage years in the grand plan­ta­tions of the South, his thoughts are on be­ing a writer and ad­ven­ture in the wider world.

The main hold on him is his painfully shy sis­ter. Crip­pled by po­lio, but more by anx­i­ety, Laura’s main in­ter­est is a col­lec­tion of glass an­i­mals. Brie Shaw’s sen­si­tive and shrink­ing por­trayal re­flects this in­ner dis­abil­ity more than the outer, and is no less ef­fec­tive for it.

Trudy Pear­son’s Amanda is the sun around which her two young plan­ets or­bit. She de­liv­ers the South­ern ca­dences in all their gushy pit­ter pat­ter dur­ing a por­trayal that fully ex­presses the capri­cious moods and emo­tional weaponry of her diva char­ac­ter.

Into this small cir­cle comes Jim, Tom’s work­mate. Jim is the longed for ‘‘gen­tle­man caller’’ - a suitor for the with­drawn and trau­ma­tised Laura who re­dis­cov­ers the crush she had on him in high school, with Michael Salmon ad­mirably com­ple­ment­ing the role.

Aid­ing the per­for­mances is an ex­traor­di­nar­ily styled pe­riod set and back­ground 30s mu­sic track, along with the un­usual fea­ture, for a non-mu­si­cal play, of the per­form­ers be­ing miked. This helps pre­serve the in­ti­mate dia­logue rhythms and the com­pelling flow of this bit­ter-sweet and at times wryly funny play.

It’s a mag­nif­i­cent pro­duc­tion that de­serves to be seen.

PHOTO: ALEXAN­DER HALLAG/SUP­PLIED

Cast of ‘‘The Glass Menagerie’’ at the Globe, from left Trudy Pear­son, Brie Shaw, Sam Gor­don and Michael Salmon.

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