The Glass Menagerie – a review
This production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass menagerie was well worth the four-hour train journey to London and back.
I turn back time. I reverse it to that quaint period, the thirties, when the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind. Their eyes failed them, or they had failed their eyes.
Tom Wingfield’s opening monologue
Rupert Goold’s staging at the Apolo theatre is a faithful adaptation of Williams’ masterpiece, often referred to as a ‘memory’ play. Amanda Hale, Jessica Lange, Ed Stoppard and Mark Umbers come together wonderfully in the series of dream-like scenes which make up the play.
Set in St Louis in the depression years, The Glass Menagerie presents us with Amanda Wingfield (Lange), the mother whose husband fell in love with long-distance and disappeared into it; Laura (Hale), her crippled and psychologically fragile daughter; Tom (Stoppard) the son who spends every evening at the movies and dreams of following his father into long-distance; and Jim(Umbers), the gentleman-caller who offers hope and, in spite of himself, delivers despair.
The Glass Menagerie tackles the problems of flawed memory, of unfulfilled dreams and the way that families conspire to trap each other within the web of the familial, while at the same time insulating themselves against the ultimate disappointment of the others. Rich in symbolism and metaphor, Williams’ script revolves around a series of abandonments, at one and the same time mirroring the experience of his central male character and of the playwright himself.
The writing, the production, and each member of the cast are memorable. Jessica Lange and Amanda Hale stand out, but that is to take nothing away from the others. This is a real treat.
The production continues until the 19th May, but don’t leave it too long, you might want to go again.
This post refers to another version of the same play