'The Glass Menagerie' by Tennessee Williams
Now onstage at Atlantic Repertory Company
Atlantic Repertory Company’s second show of the season is Tennessee Williams's semi-autobiographical The Glass Menagerie. This production hits so many of the right notes but misses out on one key aspect that makes any show soar - the heart. With that said it should be noted that I did see a special performance the night before opening.
Upon entering the BMO Studio Theatre the pre-show scene is set in an ally way filled with piles of garbage bags and a considerable dumpster. Key pieces of furniture are scattered throughout the stage: a Victrola, a kitchen table and chairs drawn to centre stage during the opening monologue, and a couch turned upright by Tom as he introduces the play. Brenda Chicas-Duran created a wonderful world for the Wingfields to reside for the two hours of the play’s run time.
The stage is sometimes enhanced by some creative use of projection, while other times it distracts from the action on the stage. The projections center stage sometimes display key phrases, moments before they are spoken, and other times short clips of images that might be running through the minds of some of the characters. These too often pulled focus from beautiful work performed on stage.
‘The Glass Menagerie’ opens with Rachel Kidd strolling across the stage playing her violin. She’s just as present on the stage as the Wingfield family in enhancing the story with live music throughout the production.
We meet Patrick Jeffrey as the ever-present Tom Wingfield. Jeffrey seamlessly moves from being the drunk narrator Tom to Tom who does what he can to keep his mother and sister happy and in a home.
Martha Irving masterfully takes control of all situations in the Wingfield house as the dutiful matriarch Amanda Wingfield.
The Wingfield family is rounded out with Kennedy McGeachy's stunning portrayal of Laura. I’ve seen some productions where Laura’s physical characteristics are dealt with heavy-handedly, but not with McGeachy who incorporates them with subtlety and care.
Finally, this wonderful cast is rounded out with Tallas Munro as Jim O’Connor, the Gentleman Caller.
Even though most of this production is wonderful and well worth seeing, this ‘Glass Menagerie’ is missing the heart needed to bring the whole show together. Unfortunately, the sum of the parts didn’t come together to provide the soul Williams gives us in the script. I hope this will come together before the end of the run on October 1.
For further information, please visit atlanticrep.ca.