The Glass Menagerie…dysfunction brought to life.

 

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A Review of RMTC’s production of Tennessee Williams’, The Glass Menagerie.

© Chuck Duboff

Tom Wingfield begins this journey down memory lane, by explaining to the audience that what we remember is often exacerbated in a negative or positive manner.  In Tennessee Williams’, The Glass Menagerie, we experience the great pain which exists within the Wingfield household.  Was this pain as real as was presented, or did Williams, in this autobiographical play, exaggerate the angst he grew up with?  What is indisputable, however, is that the RMTC production of The Glass Menagerie, is one of their finest productions in years.

Kelli Fox does a masterful job of capturing the character of Amanda Wingfield, a mother who has failed miserably in life and hopes to capture a little happiness through her daughter Laura. Amanda, having failed in her ability to capture and hold onto a gentleman caller, orchestrates the lives of her children, in the hopes of a creating the life she missed out on. She escapes into the past, lost in the supposed gentlemen callers who visited her.

 “What should I wish for mother?”, Laura’s sad request of Amanda, exposing her inability to think for herself, to live her own life, to break free of her mother’s chains.  Andrea del Campo presents a Laura filled with emptiness, void of any hope or excitement.  She too escapes, into a world of glass figurines, resplendent with animals unique in their nature, much like the “crippled” Laura.

Tom Wingfield, played by Ryan James Miller, is constantly trying to plug the holes of this sinking ship; he attempts to please his mother Amanda, help his sister Laura and make ends meet working at the warehouse, where his coworkers refer to him as Shakespeare.  Tom wants to escape the “coffin” he lives in and often refers to his father as the one who did get away; when speaking of the magician he saw perform, Tom says: “You know, it don’t take much intelligence to get yourself into a nailed-up coffin, Laura.  But who in hell ever got himself out of one without removing a nail?”  Tom desperately wants to escape the Wingfield home; running to the movies each night only gives a brief relief from the agony of his home.  When he finally runs, physically leaving Amanda’s smothering nature, he realizes that you can run, but you can’t hide.  In the final scene, Tom says: “Oh Laura, Laura, I tried to leave you behind me, but I am more faithful than I intended to be.”  Perhaps Tom’s life wasn’t as bad as he made it out to be, but rather it was just his memory of life’s experiences which made it worse.

The most outstanding feature of the RMTC production wasn’t one of the actors, but the manner in which Deco Dawson, Video Production Designer, used video in this presentation of The Glass Menagerie.  At times it was spell binding how our imagination came to life through video, from Amanda’s six gentleman callers gracing the stage, to scenes of Tom narrating, far away from home.  This truly was unique and seemingly added another character to the play.

From  Tennessee Williams’ outstanding narrative of The Glass Menagerie, to the fine acting, timely set design and music and brilliant use of video throughout the play, this production was one of the finest ever seen on the John Hirsch Mainstage.

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