Nottingham Playhouse’s current production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie is a poetic masterpiece of staging more than ably supported by the beautiful text and has superb acting throughout. The splendid set is designed by Tim Meacock and enhanced by very atmospheric lighting (Mark Howland) taking us from dream-like states to moments of stark reality. Of equal importance to the feel of the piece is a terrific sound-scape created by sound designer Adam P McCready for Poetical Machines Ltd.
Director Giles Croft wrings every drop of humour and pathos from each claustrophobic encounter with the ‘at odds’ Wingfield family and Tennessee Williams’ script makes us question the many familial motivations and also the motives behind the gentleman caller’s brief attempts to seduce shy Laura.
Williams’ cleverly crafted story makes us semi-despise the mother Amanda Wingfield (a superbly realised performance by Susannah Harker) yet at the same time laugh at the ridiculous and pretentious way in which she behaves and smothers her growing children. The character of the mother was inspired by Tennessee Williams own overbearing mother and the sister Laura by his own sick sister.
All four characters are brought superbly to life by the actors; Chris New as Tom Wingfield brilliantly suggests the inner frustrations of the son left at home with his domineering mother and crippled lonely sister. His desire to escape the family ties are palpable. The giant fire escape stage left is a metaphor for potential freedom and a great platform for Tom Wingfield’s narration featured throughout the play. Amy Trigg as the sweet Laura Wingfield pulls on the heart-strings particularly in her moments of betrayal by the perfectly cast Daniel Donskoy as Jim O’Connor. Donskoy’s Jim O’Connor exemplifies a confident young man with his heart full of the American Dream yet morally slightly off centre in his willingness to court and kiss Laura whilst knowing he is already going steady with another girl.
Another five star production from the theatrical stable of Nottingham Playhouse and in The Glass Menagerie we get an atmospheric gift of a play that earns far more laughter than you might imagine as we recognise many of the foibles and human problems subtly portrayed in Tennessee Williams’ poignant classic.
Runs until Sat 26 March.
Reviewer: Phil Lowe