Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. Her son plans escape; her daughter withdraws into a dream world. When a "...
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Kit Le Fever
Amanda Wingfield dominates her children with her faded gentility and exaggerated tales of her Southern belle past. Her son plans escape; her daughter withdraws into a dream world. When a "gentleman caller" appears, things move to crisis point. Written by
The Glass Menagerie is to plays as Beethoven's "fuer Elise" is to music: it's short and it's seemingly easy to present (it has two female and two male roles, and its author is famous), so it often ends up being done by amateurs, and one gets used to not-very-good versions. So a generally well-done performance, such as this one, is refreshing.
To boot, if you're a fan of Katherine Hepburn, Sam Waterston, Michael Moriarty, or Joanna Miles - and what person in his right mind isn't a fan of all four? - then you need to be familiar with this production, which shows you not only the legendary Hepburn in an interestingly off-type role, but also three more of your favorite actors when they were budding.
Not that this production is perfect. Hepburn, as Amanda, dominates the action entirely too much for my taste, at times reducing the other characters to leaves swirling around the tempest she creates; Waterston sometimes alternates weirdly between a detached Hamlet-like cerebrality and raging tantrums worthy of a young Lear. In other words: the production does not well balance the two characters whose opponency is central to the drama. (It might be argued that Amanda is supposed to dominate the action, and that Tom is supposed to be wimpy, but I disagree. I think Tom's frustrated and repressed manhood needs to be portrayed in such a way as to convey a prodigious, if chained down, load of energy. Remember, this is a self-portrayal of the man who became Tennessee Williams!) True, if you concentrate you can catch some of the subtlety for which Waterston later became justly noted. But he is, so to speak, shouted down by Hepburn, who is entirely too much in focus. It is almost as if this production had been planned as a vehicle for her, and the character of Tom had been treated as a prop.
For my money, the real star of this show is Moriarty's masterful portrayal of the Gentleman Caller. Moriarty does not show us the power-tripping, manipulative bastard often associated with this role, but rather a nice guy who found himself in a compromising situation he never sought, and who tried naively to make the best of his ill-starred encounter with Laura, with the result that he bites off more than he can chew, and hurts Laura all the more by not intending it. The performance here really shines; I was very moved by his awkward feelings of guilt when he realizes his error.
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