Review: The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams

The Glass Menagerie - Tennessee Williams

I talked with my husband and decided to spend an extra night in London so I could see the St Patrick's Day Parade on Sunday. So after saying goodbye to my friends on Saturday afternoon and finally finding a hotel room, I was ready to look at what the nightlife in London has to offer (besides clubs and bars, as I don't drink by myself). I stumbled upon a small (I mean small) theater (the Duke's Theater on St Martin's Place in the Trafalgar Square section) showing a limited run of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. Since the cost of a ticket was just about as much as I paid for a 3D screening of Beauty and the Beast the night before, I decided to take a chance on seeing the play.

 

Here is what I know about Tennessee Williams and his works: he is an American playwright. That's it. I didn't know what the play was about at all, other than there was four characters because the posters outside the theater had pictures of the actors. So I went in totally blind.

 

I am so glad I took the chance - there were moments of laugh out loud one-liners that lighten a rather desperate situation of a family living in St Louis in 1937. The stage was sparse, but functional to help me separate scenes being played out. The actors' performances elevated the material; to be quite honest, I would have DNF reading this play, as the characters would have gotten on my last nerve. This is a play that needs to be seen and heard (so possible audiobook choice) rather than read.

 

 Cherry Jones, playing the role of the mother, took an obnoxious twat of a character and made me care for and hope along with Amanda that her children have better futures than her. Tom was kinda of an asshole character, with a selfish streak a mile wide; however, in Michael Esper's hands, the audience also senses the guilt, the burden of responsibility place on his shoulders, and his frustrations for wanting to live his own life and explore the world. I thought the character of Laura as pretty much simpering wall paper until the James shows up and love brings her out into the world - Katie O'Flynn and Brian J. Smith had some real chemistry and I rooted for them to have a HEA. Alas, it was not meant to be (Betty can go get bent for all I care!).

 

This revival is up for 7 Oliver Awards (the UK version of the Tonys) and I really hope Jones wins in her category and the overall stage production takes home at least one prize. A lovely way to spend a couple of hours. But I am still not going to read this because without the actors', the hissy fits from the mother, Laura, and Tom would just anger me.