The Glass Menagerie Shines At Ivoryton Playhouse

By Tony Schillaci and Don Church

Sometimes, on the stage as well as in life, the moon and the stars align to shine on moments of perfection.

An imaginary moon shone upon a gifted director and four appealing and talented stars in Tennessee Williams’ award-wining The Glass Menagerie at the Ivoryton Playhouse, May 9th. www.ivorytonplayhouse.com.

We witnessed an evening of theater as though we were silent neighbors, peeking across an alley into a sad, 1930’s St. Louis apartment, where Amanda and her adult children, Laura and Tom Wingfield attempted to cope with their shabby lot in life.

Amanda, dynamically played by Julia Kiley, is still living in her memory days as a Southern Belle, abandoned by her husband and attempting to control her environment and her children.   She tries to rise above her depression-era surroundings with the same pride she felt at her cotillion back in the genteel South.

Laura, her shy and physically damaged daughter, is shown as a trembling and sad girl whose only relief from loneliness is her collection of glass figurines, her Victrola, and the gentle love of her brother.

Catherine Domareki portrays Laura with a consistent believability…we feel for her and we want to protect her.

Tom, both the narrator of the play and the son/brother of the Wingfield family, is brought to life powerfully by Broadway-actor Peter Lockyer.  Tom is a poet (some scholars say he mirrors Williams’ then closeted homosexuality), a gentle soul who toils in a factory and goes out every night to a movie or bar, which both puzzles and bothers his mother.

The second act brings us the Gentleman Caller, played spot-on by Andrew Sneed, a character unwilling to allow the disappointments of life to defeat his optimism and shines a ray of hope on the Wingfield’s existence – if only for a moment.

Director Jacqueline Hubbard and her actors faithfully follow Williams’ written instructions on how to present his compelling play. Although a tragedy, the humor, which in so many productions of the play is silenced by less-capable directors, is honored here.

Dan Nischan’s set, Doug Harry’s lighting design and Pan Puente’s costumes successfully served as harmonizing elements in this memorable staging of the play.

The haunting music by Paul Bowles used in the original 1944 stage production effectively wends its way though scenes in which Williams’ wanted to elicit specific feelings from audiences.

Williams and his brilliantly poetic work are well-served and justly remembered in this first-rate production.

© Copyright 2008. Critic On The Aisle. All rights reserved. criticontheaisle@hotmail.com

(This review will be published by Metroline News Magazine on May 30)

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