October 24, 2013 | 2178 views
On and Off Broadway
A Review by Elyse Trevers
Broadway has its first hit of the new season in the form of an old classic. The revival of Glass Menagerie stars the incomparable Cherry Jones as the indomitable Amanda and talented Zach Quinto as her discontented son, Tom. Rounding out the excellent cast is Celia Keenan-Bolger (Peter and the Starcatcher) as the fragile Laura and Brian J. Smith as the Gentleman Caller. When Tom, the narrator as well as a character, describes the story as a memory play, the audience is reminded that memory is selective.The lighting casts shadows and brightness upon his recollections.The lighting design by Natasha Katz is almost a living entity with its vagueness and clarity, candlelight and spotlight.
Tom recalls his mother as an overbearing, nagging shrew and his sister the introverted victim. His own memories of himself are scathing — his drunkenness, thoughtlessness, and even his vicious arguments with his mother. Despite his mother’s attempts at making him feel guilty, he leaves the family but still, years later, feels remorse at deserting his helpless sister.
Although I’ve seen Glass Menagerie before and have read the play several times, this version, directed by John Tiffany, seems to shed a different light on the play, literally. The overbearing Amanda Wingate always seemed to be the main character. With the forceful Jones, Amanda could easily have been that person, yet Tom emerges as the main character in this revival. Perhaps it’s because Amanda is a more sympathetic character. Despite her constant carping and annoying “rise and shine,” Jones has gentleness about her, especially when she interacts with her daughter. Always magnificent, Jones can even carry off the frilly antebellum dress she dons to entertain the Gentleman Caller. It’s a funny visual, yet there’s a desperation about her as she hopes to help charm the young man for her daughter. She is firm but tender and the audience cares about her.