The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - THE­ATRE The Glass Menagerie Duke of York’s The­atre Plow Speed the

IT’S NOT es­sen­tial but it helps a play’s au­then­tic­ity when the peo­ple in­volved in a pro­duc­tion are of the world it de­picts. This is partly why the Old Vic’s 2008 pro­duc­tion of star­ring Hol­ly­wood sons Kevin Spacey and Jeff Gold­blum as two Hol­ly­wood sons of bitches might have been the best night I’ve had at the the­atre.

And know­ing that Amer­i­can stage star Cherry Jones was born in Ten­nessee and raised less than a two- hour drive from where the ma­tri­arch in Ten­nessee Wil­liams’s break­through play of 1944 was raised, gives John Tif­fany’s pro­duc­tion an ex­tra layer of in­tegrity.

In her over­due Lon­don de­but, Jones plays age­ing south­ern belle Amanda Wing­field, the mother of crush­ingly shy Laura (Kate O’Flynn) and Tom (Michael Esper), her as­pir­ing writer son whose mea­gre earn­ings are all that keeps his fam­ily from the streets of 1930s St Louis. They were aban­doned by his fa­ther, a tele­phone com­pany worker who “fell in love with long dis­tance.”

This is Tom’s story. And although he de­scribes him­self as be­ing the op­po­site of a ma­gi­cian, “he gives you il­lu­sion that has the ap­pear­ance of truth. I give you truth in the pleas­ant dis­guise of il­lu­sion,” the way he con­jures the char­ac­ters that haunt his mem­ory is pure sor­cery, es­pe­cially when his sis­ter Laura is pulled through the up­hol­stery of the fam­ily’s sofa.

Bob Crow­ley’s shad­owy de­sign is most me­morable for the dingy apart­ment’s tow­er­ing fire-es­cape that soars into the pitch-black, night sky. Less suc­cess­ful is the sliver of moon that is more like a shark’s fin than a ce­les­tial body. But, apart from that, the de­lib­er­ate ar­ti­fice of Wil­liams’s set-up morphs into ut­terly con­vinc-

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