In memory, everything is swathed in a delicately lovely light. It is not always clear, however, as many of our reminiscences are actually opaque. They are obscured by time, which as Tennessee Williams’ alter ego, Tom Wingfield (Joe Mantello in the current Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie at the Belasco through July 2nd) says is “the longest distance between two places.”
His memories cannot be outpaced by those of his mother, Amanda (Sally Field) whose fierce devotion to her children and their future are part willful delusion and part artful discernment.
Even when Amanda reflexively flirts with Jim O’Connor (Finn Whittrock), the “gentleman
caller” she hopes will be there for her daughter Laura (Madison Ferris), we never doubt her loyalty to her children. Amanda cannot resist the impulse to pour on her charm as she did in Blue Mountain in her youth. Her intentions are for Laura to benefit from meeting the visitor Tom brought into their home.
Minimalism is the principle course of action for the stagecraft in The Glass Menagerie. The impetus is to allow the play to speak for itself.
I applaud and understand the method behind the production, though I still do not like its sometimes puzzling choices.
The scenery, designed by Andrew Lieberman, lacks adornment with its centerpiece being a plain table and a neon sign for the Paradise Dancehall. The lighting by Adam Silverman leaves the house lights up for a full 25 minutes, and then, later, plunges us into darkness for a while. The costumes by Wojciech Dziedzic for the most part look to be the actors’ streetware. .
Memory is clued by a single symbol, triggered by a simple key. Director Sam Gold and his creative team set the stage for it to exercise its power. Williams’ words, and the talents of the cast take it from there.
For more information and tickets, please visit The Glass Menagerie website.