The Glass Menagerie Review: Spooky Southern Comfort

Austin Pendleton and Peter Bloch’s revival of the Tennessee Williams play, “The Glass Menagerie” is exactly what you need to see on a chilly October evening. Staged at The Wild Project, it’s a roller coaster of emotions that goes perfectly with a glass of wine in hand. 

Matt de Rogatis opens up the production, explaining that memory is “sentimental, not realistic,” in a charmingly tired southern accent. As the narrator of the play, de Rogatis makes millisecond eye contact with each viewer, sometimes holding his stare for longer, as he pauses to reflect. Like an uncle you haven’t seen for half a decade or a man at the bar who’d been waiting for someone to ask how his day went, you sometimes forget if de Rogatis is playing a role or telling you about his own life. Chuckling from nostalgia and gritting his teeth as he imagines his future unchanging, from walking with a jump in his step to hanging half off the couch in despair, he gives the viewer the emotions we may lack as we go about our daily routines. You find yourself laughing and going crazy with Tom simultaneously. 

Directors Austin Pendleton and Peter Bloch did an excellent job of capturing the viewers’ focus on the characters in the play. There were no props used besides their clothing, furniture, a candle and of course, the glass menagerie. 

Each argument over dinner or inhale of an invisible cigarette was accentuated by cringing of eyebrows or the clench of a jaw, rather than chicken and potatoes or cigarette smoke. 

Each time de Rogatis, playing Tom Wingfield, would flick his cigarette free of ash, you could see the nervousness and aggravation in his hand, a true portrayal of a man who’d rather be dead than live another day in his current life. 

Ginger Grace, starring as Amanda Wingfield, perfectly portrays a nervous mother whose eyes light up only when she tells of her youth. From her pronunciation of “mayonnaise” (‘mai-nez’), to the way she clasps both hands around the phone as she plans her daughters future, reacting to every pause with such expression, that the viewer has no problem filling in the second half of the phone conversation amidst the quiet. 

Any child who has ever hidden something from their parents will recognize the fear in Alexandra Rose’s eyes, playing Laura Wingfield as her mother discovers that she’d been deceived. Rose came to a wonderful start, as this is her professional theatre debut. Eyes wide open as she stares like a deer in headlights at Jim through candlelight, or toes crinkled as she walks barefoot, pleading with Tom, Rose came off gentile and genuine, perfect for her child-like role of Laura. 

Each of us can recognize a Jim O’Connor, played by Spenser Scott, at our workplace. Properly composed with his shirt neatly tucked in, perfectly mannered and smiling, Jim O’Connor calmly goes about his life, making an appearance in the play as the catalyst for change and disappointment for the audience. 

Thanks to the depth of these four characters, all played with such power and peculiarity, the theatre is filled with thought-provoking emotions and conversation starters for after the show. Make no mistake, The Glass Menagerie is worth getting lost in.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply