Review Roundup: THE GLASS MENAGERIE Opens on Broadway - All the Reviews!
Frank Rizzo, Variety: Memory floats on a giant plane of regret in American Repertory Theater's epic and intimate production of "The Glass Menagerie," trapped forever between a shimmering black sea and an endless void that even an infinite fire escape can't reach. Tennessee Williams' world of poetry and prose is presented gracefully, even wondrously, in this distinctive production - helmed by John Tiffany ("Once") and starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto - that no doubt will have Gotham's gentlemen and women coming to call, even if sometimes it's just awkward and disconnected.
Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune: As you can see both in director John Tiffany's beautiful Broadway revival that opened here Thursday night and in a smaller but equally insightful and yet more intense Chicago revival that was the highlight of last season, directors have finally realized that there is no shame in presenting explicit memory in the only medium that can fully serve it...Cherry Jones, one of the great American stage actors, understands that playing a character in a memory play does not mean work informed by the ephemeral. Her Amanda is a great, gutsy woman from a time lousy for her gender. In this fine performance, you discern that her attempts at survival and modest progress are laid low by her own awareness of life's fragility for women, such as her daughter, without visible means of support. Keenan-Bolger spends much of the two hours of stage traffic trying to find some small victories to overcome her own despair; it is another beautiful performance.
Linda Winer, Newsday: People actually seem to hang there on the stage, as selective and eccentric as memory, in director John Tiffany's unsettling, viscerally powerful revival of Tennessee Williams' 1944 masterwork, "The Glass Menagerie."...What could be ridiculous and mannered is, instead, bold and terrifically effective in this willful but fascinating vision by Tiffany and much of the team responsible for the enchanting Tony-winning "Once." It helps that Zachary Quinto portrays Tom with the wary, restless humanity of a trapped poet, while Cherry Jones carves out a less delusional, more sturdy Amanda with kaleidoscopic layers of hope and bile.
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: Jones, one of the greatest stage actresses alive, conveys this in a performance that will amaze even her most ardent admirers in its depth and compassion...This Menagerie...is by no means Jones' triumph alone. The four-person cast is as meticulously assembled as the titular collection of tiny glass animals that is Laura's most cherished possession. Director John Tiffany guides the players with sensitivity and vigor, underscoring both the dreamy, surreal aspects of Williams' "memory play" and the brutal reality that the characters seem determined to shut out. Celia Keenan-Bolger brings an exquisite physical and vocal delicacy to Laura...As Tom, the family member most in touch with the outside world and also the narrator (describing a past based on the playwright's), Zachary Quinto moves deftly from recollection to confrontation, from dry asides to heated outbursts. A perfectly cast Brian J. Smith completes the company as the affable but mysterious "Gentleman Caller" whose meeting with Laura sends the play hurtling toward its climax.
Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post: This revival of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" arrives on Broadway from Cambridge, Mass., with the excitement usually reserved for "Breaking Bad" and cronuts: It's genius! You need it! Well, not quite. This is a fine evening at the theater, not a divine revelation. The show is a good take on Williams' memory play, and Zachary Quinto and Cherry Jones offer interesting spins on familiar characters - even if Jones' execution doesn't match her concept of the role.
Scott Brown, Vulture: If the pattern holds, and we get one Menagerie a decade, this will be a high point. I'm not sure what the two-thousand-teens did to earn this beautiful oubliette of a production (the aughts got Christian Slater in a leather jacket), but let's just say the next decade has its work cut out: This is a grand and true illusion, not just to be lauded and gawked at-though you will, and that's appropriate-but studied. Watch the hands. Be led and misled by them. Remember it differently this time.
Thom Geier, Entertainment Weekly: The setting is both real and unreal, as are the performances by a uniformly excellent cast, with subtle choreography (by Steven Hoggett) that recalls the unshowy movement in Tiffany's musical hit Once. Cherry Jones is masterful as Amanda...There is a real poignancy in her portrayal, which avoids the extremes that have felled some other Amandas: She noodges without being smothering, and romanticizes the past without seeming delusional. As aspiring writer Tom, who longs to leave his warehouse job and set out on a life of adventure, Zachary Quinto is wryly funny but no less affecting. Celia Keenan-Bolger astutely underplays his sister Laura's limp to emphasize how her most crippling feature is timidity of spirit. And Brian J. Smith, as Laura's former high school crush, hits just the right notes of vanity and vulnerability. As seen through the hazy gauze of recollection, these mythic characters become at once familiar and true. A
Joe Dziemianowicz, New York Daily News: No ifs, ands or buts - "The Glass Menagerie" should break your heart. The new Broadway revival starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto cracks it wide open. The striking production also opens your eyes to fresh insights in Tennessee Williams' mid-'40s breakthrough. It's a remarkable achievement, considering how familiar we've become with the drama of overbearing Amanda Wingfield, her fragile daughter, Laura, and restless son, Tom...In keeping with the strong, spare scenery, performances are lean and natural. Jones, a stage great who's won Tonys for "The Heiress" and "Doubt," endows Amanda with potent vitality. She can lose herself in the sweet-scented memories of jonquils and gentility, but she's no shrinking violet. She's fiercely maternal. Quinto, of the "Star Trek" reboot, streaks Tom, the stand-in for Williams, with exasperation and surliness. His cruel abandonment of his family in the dark is all the more credible. As the delicate Laura, Celia Keenan-Bolger draws you in with her transparent honesty.
Robert Kahn, NBC New York: [Quinto's] performance, brooding and self-aware, allows you to experience Tom's turmoil: the contradictory knowledge that to save himself, he needs to desert the ones he loves most...Jones, in the months leading up to this opening, left us with the sense she never wanted to play the complex Amanda, but allowed director Tiffany to persuade her. Thank goodness. Her forceful matron is bullying and boisterous, motherly and affectionate, deluded and desperately needy, without ever quite coming off as detached from reality...Keenan-Bolger holds her chin high through every disappointment. Her face remains blank, but she carries the weight of her burdens in hunched shoulders. Laura's low self-esteem drives the action in "Menagerie," though by the end of this production, Keenan-Bolger will have you second-guessing just who among the Wingfields is truly the weakest link. Her Laura is frail, but not yet so lost to despair that she is unable to take risks.
Matt Windman, AM New York: Must every high-profile revival of Tennessee Williams' 1944 breakout drama "The Glass Menagerie" be marred by an obtrusive and frustrating directorial concept or design scheme? True, John Tiffany's graceful production is a vast improvement over the 2005 Broadway production and the 2010 Off-Broadway staging. But the excellent four-member cast -Cherry Jones (Amanda), Zachary Quinto (Tom), Celia Keenan-Bolger (Laura) and Brian J. Smith (Gentleman Caller) - is forced to compete against Bob Crowley's chic but inappropriate set design, Natasha Diaz's harsh lighting and Nico Muhly's creepy, synthetic-sounding original music...But aside from these distractions, the acting is absolutely superb. Jones convincingly balances Amanda's brave ferocity and kooky excesses. Keenan-Bolger exquisitely captures Laura's sad, frail beauty. Even if Quinto comes off too casual and contemporary, he imbues Tom with a dreamy lyricism that contrasts with the clean-cut overachiever that is Smith's Gentleman Caller.
Jeremy Gerard, Bloomberg: Cherry Jones also defies expectations, playing Amanda not as a badgering witch but as a cauldron of disappointment overwhelmed with love and fear for her children's futures. Warm and touchingly humane, she anchors the near perfect quartet completed by Celia Keenan-Bolger, who makes Laura more than just a wind-tossed leaf, and Brian J. Smith's effusively amiable Gentleman Caller, whose kiss embodies all the dashed hope that is Laura's fate. The play has been sensitively staged by the "Once" team of John Tiffany and movement director Steven Hoggett. You will probably forgive them, as I did, the digressions into mimed business that occasionally stop the play in its tracks.
Roma Torre, NY1: I've seen quite a few productions of Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie," and yet, this one stands well above the rest. It retains the haunting resonance of the great classic that it is, and yet, it possesses the originality of a never-before-seen work of art.
David Cote, Time Out NY: The 1944 drama was a call for lyricism and emotional rawness on the American stage. This fresh and keenly urgent production feels like a triumphant homecoming.
Robert Hofler, The Wrap: Fortunately, Williams has once again aligned with the ideal cast and creative team, in John Tiffany's staging of "The Glass Menagerie," an American Repertory Theater production starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto that previously played Harvard and opened Thursday night at the Booth Theater.
Jonathan Mandell, New York Theater: Like many great stage actresses, Cherry Jones has a magic in person that doesn't translate well. It seems fitting that this performance, and this production, will really exist only in memory - but there it will lodge.
Photo Credit: Michael J. Lutch