Skip to main content

The Glass Menagerie

King's Theatre
Four stars

One of the first things that strikes you about EIF's revival of John Tiffany's American Repertory Theater production of Tennessee Williams' defining early play is how warm everyone is to each other. Would-be writer Tom Wingfield may be desperate to get away from the fire escape of the St Louis tenement that made him, but in Michael Esper's portrayal is a long way from the uptight neurotic he's sometimes presented as. Instead, the sparring with his mother Amanda is part and parcel of the day to day knockabout of a supremely dysfunctional but still loving family.

This is most defined in Cherry Jones' exquisite portrayal of Amanda, a woman made brittle by disappointment and only too willing to lionise her past, but who now she is alone only wants the best for her very special children. Where Tom is a classic ennui-ridden bookworm, her daughter Laura is fragile in a more troubling way. Even here, however, Kate O'Flynn's portrayal may be so delicate that it looks like it might fall apart any second, but she too is in on the family joke as she and her brother both indulge and quietly mock her mother's flights of fancy. Seth Numrich's Gentleman Caller too is a mix of bluffness and disappointment.

Tiffany and movement director Steven Hoggett invest what is already a beautiful piece of work with an emotional pulse that comes not only from the subtle physical tics each character is given, but Natasha Katz's near sepia lighting and Nico Muhly's piano-led score as well. Played out on Bob Crowley's barely there set, what is possibly the saddest play ever written is blessed with fresh magic throughout.

The Herald, August 9th 2016



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…


Tramway, Glasgow until July 2nd
Four stars

In the dead of night, the audience are split in two and led under-cover into lamp-lit tented structures. Inside, what look like peasant women on the run lead us down a ramp and into a large circular pod. It feels part cathedral, part space-ship, and to come blinking into the light of such a fantastical structure after stumbling in the dark disorientates and overwhelms. Sat around the pod as if awaiting prayers to begin, we watch as performers Nerea Bello and Judith Williams incant mournfully on either side of the room. Their keening chorales embark on a voyage of their own, twisting around each other by way of the international language of singing. As if in sympathy, the walls wail and whisper, before starting to move as those on either side of the pod are left stranded, a gulf between them.

This international co-commission between Glasgow Life and the Merchant City Festival, Sydney Harbour Foreshaw Authority in Australia and Urbane Kienste …