The Glass Menagerie is a semi-autobiographical play that helped launch Tennessee Williams’ career. Bear & Co.’s production of this well-loved play was strongly performed with only a few technical hiccups.
Should you see it?
Having never seen this play performed before (and having only a vague idea of the story), I was first struck by the writing. There’s a symbolic intelligence in this play that would take further reading to fully appreciate. At the same time, the plot itself is simple enough. Told through narration and dialogue, the story follows Tom Wingfield (Tim Oberholzer) as he gives the audience a glimpse into the memory of his home life with his mother, Amanda (Rachel Eugster), and his disabled sister, Laura (Sarah Waisvisz). By this description, it might sound like there’s nothing special here. But despite the seemingly banal storyline, there are complex themes at work. There is a strong emotional component that drives the play and makes it what it is – a beautiful, yet heartbreaking, family tale.
As the production progressed, and my initial reaction to the writing and story took a backseat, I began to recognize the tremendous acting taking place before me. Under the direction of Eleanor Crowder, all the actors did a fabulous job bringing their characters to life. Sarah Waisvisz did a terrific job depicting – in my opinion – one of the most interesting and sympathetic characters in theatre. While her portrayal of Laura emphasized the character’s emotional fragility, there also seemed to be strength just beneath the surface, waiting to reveal itself. Rachel Eugster was wonderful as Amanda, depicting the loud and over-bearing mother in a way that perfectly contrasted the character of Laura. Tim Oberholzer’s performance as Tom the son and Tom the narrator was varied enough to keep the two roles straight. And Cory Thibert portrayed Jim O’Connor, the gentleman caller, with a certain amount of ambiguity; he was both humble and egotistical, caring and selfish. These contradictory characteristics made him a very interesting figure.
The intelligent script and strong acting in combination with a beautiful vintage-looking set made for a great production, despite a couple of technical hiccups and line blunders. This is definitely a production I’d like to see again.
But that’s just my opinion and I’d love to hear what you think. Did the plot engage you? Were you impressed by the performances? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!