Saturday, October 29, 2016

Beth Marshall presents The Glass Menagerie at the Garden Theater.


The Glass Menagerie written by Tennessee Williams harkens back to memories of his youth when he worked in a warehouse to support his mother and sister. Tom, (Anthony Pyatt Jr.) restlessly dreamed of a life of adventure as a poet. The only way to find that adventure in his work a day life is to escape to the movies. His mother, Amanda Wingfield, (Cami Miller), is a faded southern belle who lives in poverty with Tom and her painfully shy daughter, Laura, (Anneliese Moon) in St. Louis during the late 1930s. Tom's fragile sister seems unable to find her place. Believing that marriage will be the answer for Laura, Amanda pushes Tom into finding a male suitor (Zack Lane) for her. What begins as a promising evening soon unravels, and the fragile fantasy world the family had begun to build is irreparably cracked. Tennessee Williams drew upon his own life to create a poignant tale that has become an award-winning American classic. The Glass Menagerie was first brought to the stage in 1945, the play was a 2014 Tony Award nominee for Best Revival of a Play.

 Laura is so frail and vulnerable that of course my heart went out to her. So many survivors of the Pulse shooting spoke of their life being on hold. My own life seems frozen, waiting for the next chapter to begin. Laura got flustered at business school and had to drop out. Her every memory of High School, is of being different, an outsider. The gentleman caller, Jim is the embodiment of the American ideal. He believes that a few courses in public speaking will catapult him towards certain success.  He wants a give his confidence to Laura and every time he touches her she calms down. My theater companion felt that Laura's constant shaking was distracting, but I was so won over be her delicate beauty that it didn't bother me. Animators stage a scene so that it plays to back of the theater. Perhaps that is the reason used for Laura's mannerisms.

What mattered most was how the last act bowled me over. Tom had left to seek out his life of poetry and adventure. He however loved his sister and wished he had been able to do more for her. In walking down a city street at night he remembered seeing brightly lit colored glass in a drug store window. That beautiful glass reminded him of his sisters delicate Menagerie of glass animals.  His sister was the glass unicorn who only wanted to be like every other horse. She joined the herd by having her dream smashed and her heart broken. Tom's memory of her caught me and made me well up. Was I crying for her, or all of us?

The Glass Menagerie runs through November 6th.

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