The Glass Menagerie

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 11.40.32 AMI am sure everyone who is part of the VDP has seen at least one version of The Glass Menagerie.” I had, twice, but none nearly as good as the current revival directed by John Tiffany at the Booth Theater.

The actors, all four of them, interpret their roles with empathy and depth. Cherry Jones is a strong, determined Amanda, determined to get her children out of their sad, desperate lives. She does so with compassion, charm and a blind love. Laura and Tom are unforgettable, as is “the gentleman caller,” who in his short part manages to crystalize the issues of this family.

This is a play to be seen and enjoyed. A rare gem.

Gabriella de Ferrari

 

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Posted: 03/22/13 by  

 If this American Repertory Theater production, which just closed in Cambridge and is rumored to be coming to New York, is not the reimagining that Ben Brantley called it in the Times, it will certainly make you reconsider Amanda Wingfield. The reason to see it, of course, is Cherry Jones, who in fact came of age at the ART and, with her own Virginia roots, is an ideal Amanda, even if she has said it was Laura she always wanted to play. Her Amanda is not the fragile, illusion-bound, scheming harridan and clear Blanche precursor actresses usually create, whose “disappointment by life” heartbreaking inability to make any of her schemes come true made Laurette Taylor’s performance the one that any actor who saw it called the most memorable of their lives. Instead, Jones’s Amanda is a survivor, set on playing every card she’s been dealt (that tough pragmatism is clearly what drove Williams to get his own plays produced). And she even has a sense of humor about herself—a shrewd self-awareness I recall from no other Amanda, and a flirtatiousness that comes out not in the buffoonish coquetry of the scene with the Gentleman Caller, but in her scene of quizzing her son about just who the caller is and what his prospects are.

Tom’s knowledge of his mother has a knockabout intimacy in which he is not drily poking fun at her, as the scene is usually played, but letting her fully share the joke of her own scheming calculation. Their complete familiarity and comfort with each other—she’s perfectly aware of how restless he is, and wants to keep him only until his sister’s fate is settled—is what, we understand, forces him to leave. Zachary Quinto’s Tom seems far from the best Tom ever he is being called; his accent and jerky gestures, part of the director John Tiffany’s interpretation of Williams’s deliberate expressionism, are stagy and obtrusive, as is his generally contemporary air where Jones is perfectly of the period. But his complicity with and love for his mother and sister ring true, and like much of this production show us new sides of characters we thought we knew achingly well. Watch for notes that someone will bring it to Broadway.

2 Responses to “The Glass Menagerie”

  1. Cherry Jones is one of my favorite Broadway actresses. But her Amanda somehow just didn’t feel like it was hitting the right notes, and the awkwardly stylized production was a distraction. It may have been the jet-lag from a long trip in Asia, but we left at the intermission.

  2. When I searched for previous comments about the current revival of The Glass Menagerie, I was surprised to find that all of them were related to the 2013 production with Cherry Jones. Telling, perhaps. For my part, I enjoyed Sally Field’s grittier take. I thought that Tom appearing in his memory as the age when he was telling the story was an effective reminder of his contemporary relationship to the story. Finn Whitrock was a more traditional portrayal of Jim, but he did a terrific job nonetheless. I thought the choice of a seriously handicapped young actress to play Laura was very challenging to the audience. While her performance is brave, it is hard to set aside what her personal struggles must be in undertaking this role multiple times a week and to embrace her as her character Laura.

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