The Glass Menagerie

The King’s Theatre was packed on Monday evening, 8 August, for this performance of Tennessee Williams’ powerful play, ‘The Glass Menagerie’. Believing in the dictum ‘write about what you know’, this black comedy rings true to me in a manner of painful stark reality to which every family at some point can relate.

Domineering, ambitious ‘Monster Mother’ as I saw her, brilliantly acted by Cherry Jones was, in many way, a tragic figure, yet one to which the audience readily responded, often with laughter. Michael Esper is the frustrated would-be writer son gives a brilliant performance based on Williams’ own early experience and Kate O’Flynn’s career on stage and screen has the ‘stellar’ quality of enabling her convincing performance as Laura. Her domineering mother, Amanda, bullies her but with, apparently, the highly commendable motive of finding a suitable husband for Laura from one of the many callers, who don’t seem to exist except in Amanda’s imagination. The fact that Laura’s own father had deserted Amanda and his children to travel the world underpins everything which takes place in the play.

Michael Esper’s interpretation of Tom was highly convincing. In The Glass Menagerie he manages to combine a determination to defy his mother’s more extreme demands with apparent compliance to follow his own path. Tom helps audiences to understand Tennessee Williams’ own character and the issues he had to face and overcome.

Mrs Amanda Wingfield, Cheryl Jones’ character, is constantly waiting for the ‘callers’ (who never arrive) whilst playing a leading role in her local church and selling magazine subscriptions to women members. Tom, being forced to work in a warehouse to support the family, when all he wants to do is to write, eventually produces that elusive caller. This part is played by Seth Numrich. As the visit unfolds the inner life of Laura is revealed, depicted by tiny glass miniatures – hence the play’s title. In a brilliant twist, towards the end of the play the caller, who works with Tom at the warehouse comes to dinner. But nothing is straightforward…

The stage setting, with conventional furnishings overshadowed by towering ladders – representing a reach for the sky to fulfil a dream – is not commented upon by the characters but reveals, to me, the underlying message. This particular concept was invented by Movement Director Steven Hoggett, one of the production team. John Tiffany, the director is ably supported by his whole team of skilled staff including Steven whose concept of the’New Plastic Theatre’ is represented by the ladders.

The production is presented by special arrangement with the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee – who hold Tennessee Williams archive. The Edinburgh production is also supported by The Pirie Rankin Charitable Trust.

A great experience!

Running at the King’s Theatre until 21st August.

 

About Christine Richard OBE FRSA

http://www.lothianlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Christine.jpg Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.
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