Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Glass Menagerie


I don’t think that the new production of the Tennessee Williams masterpiece, now on view at the Belasco Theatre, is a good choice for anyone who has not seen the play before. It is too quirky. Director Sam Gold seems to be operating in Ivo van Hove mode, trying too hard to put his own revisionist stamp on a classic. He has chosen to emphasize the comic over the poetic; I have never heard that much laughter at any previous production. Sally Field’s Amanda is understated, avoids histrionics, and works rather well. I do miss a Southern accent though. Joe Mantello at first seems much too old to play Tom, but since he is narrating a memory play, his age doesn’t really matter. His performance is very strong and dominates the evening. Finn Wittrock’s Jim O’Connor is a tad too energetic, veering dangerously close to cartoonish at times. And then there is Madison Ferris as Laura. The decision to cast someone confined to a wheelchair as Laura was a noble but misguided choice. It is unsupported by the text, which specifically refers to her walking around and makes no sense at all when her mother sends her out to run an errand. It might matter less if Ferris were better able to hold her own with the other actors. Andrew Lieberman’s set design has the enormous stage bare except for a table and chairs, some metal shelves and a crate of phonograph records. The costumes by Wojciech Dziedzic are appropriate. There are two scenes where rain falls on the set, which leaves the actors senselessly splashing around in puddles by play’s end; there seemed absolutely no point to it. Gold’s take on the play is interesting, but distorts the piece too much for my taste. Running time: two hours, five minutes; no intermission.

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