4. THE GLASS MENAGERIE
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 Jim is the longed for ‘‘gentleman caller’’ - a suitor for the withdrawn and traumatised Laura who rediscovers the crush she had on him in high school, with Michael Salmon admirably complementing the role.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.
Cast of ‘‘The Glass Menagerie’’ at the Globe, from left Trudy Pearson, Brie Shaw, Sam Gordon and Michael Salmon.