The Glass Menagerie


The Glass Menagerie

La Boite Roundhouse Theatre

3rd – 31st August 2013

Reviewed by Meredith McLean



The Glass Menagerie is one of those long-standing plays that aren’t so distant in the past but still carry the importance of a classic. Many theatregoers can appreciate the tenderness of Tennessee Williams’ characters and the brutal subtext of this play.


David Berthold’s re-imagining of Tennessee Williams’ seminal work is both charming and frightful, if not a little off the mark at times. As a stand-alone creative piece it makes a delightful and odd comedy. Others are loving this about it, of course, but as a classic that reaches out to some very sombre moments, this production feels almost disrespectful to the play.


The space at La Boite gives us realism, in the sense that almost like an arena stage, at any one time in the play someone will be facing you, and someone facing away, as if the audience is in the room. However, I found the grand, iconic image of “the father” looming over this hard done by family distracting, and the quotations found in the speech bubble seem superfluous. The Glass Menagerie has such a strong sense of emotion, there is no need to attempt to heighten its meaning with unique set design (Penny Challen), kitsch and fun and updated though it may be.




Jason Klarwein as Tom Wingfield was by far the favourite of the show. Perhaps that is because the character is so witty and warming to the crowd, or even because he is the narrator, brother and in the end, somewhere between a traitor and a dreamer. Klarwein’s performance is both amusing and pivotal when the moment requires him to be.




Julian Curtis (the Gentleman Caller) is also able to bring the bitter sweet to life, and his scene with Kathryn Marquet (Laura) gets the tone of the play just right.




Whether it was the doing of the audience or something to do with this shrill-voiced, comedic take on Amanda Wingfield, played by Helen Howard, there appeared to be moments that called for seriousness but instead, received laughter. Marquet’s portrayal of Laura Wingfield begs for empathy and giggles in the right places, but whether or not the audience understands this is up to the individuals present each night.


One moment that stands out is a harsh word from Amanda to her beautiful and lost daughter Laura. It is a moment of brutality after all of the (beautiful and lost) mother’s efforts and denial. But the audience have mixed reactions. Half of them laugh while the rest ooh and ouch.




Mixed reactions like that call for thoughts on representation and the individual’s interpretation. The Glass Menagerie is not to be taken as clear-cut and simple. That is one of the reasons this show is always fantastic, and well worth seeing, no matter who has brought it to the stage.




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