Friday, 12 September 2014

The Glass Menagerie

Dundee Rep
Four stars
When actor Robbie Jack takes the microphone as Tennessee Williams'
alter-ego Tom Wingfield at the start of Jemima Levick's post-modern
tinged revival of Williams' 1944 semi-autobiographical full-length
debut, he could be the compere of some latter day live art confessional
cabaret night channelling the spirits of Lenny Bruce and Eric Bogosian.
As Jack signals for the blank wall of Alex Lowde's clean-lined set to
raise, it's an unexpected opening to an openly sentimental affair more
regularly gift-wrapped in more traditional theatrical ribbons and bows.

Here, however, as type-written keywords from the script are projected
above to signal moments within moments, the play becomes Tom's work in
progress which he writes ever larger with every re-enactment he
conjures up in dreams haunted by  his mother Amanda and sister Laura.

The Wingfield apartment may be small, but it provides an escape route
for all. For Irene Macdougall's Amanda, forever the disappointed
d├ębutante, it's a catwalk that allows her to claim the spotlight, her
every reverie sounding like a dress rehearsal for an acceptance speech.
For Millie Turner's Laura it's a safe-house where, like any other
socially anxious young person, she can lose herself in records  and the
fantasy of her glass animal collection. While for Tom it's both
back-street prison and unexpected if somewhat guilt-wracked
inspiration, even Thomas Cotran's gentleman caller Jim seems to find
himself anew there.

All dressed up with Joan Cleville's little choreographic flourishes and
RJ McConnell's languid underscore for piano, clarinet and cello,
Levick's impressionistic and mould-breaking reimagining of Willliams'
poetic intentions is an exquisitely poignant construction that breathes
fresh heartbreak into one of the saddest plays ever written.

The Herald, September 12th 2014


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