BWW Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Aux Dog Theatre
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams, one of the playwright's best-known plays, is a "memory play" based on autobiographical elements of Williams' life. The award-winning drama follows the Wingfield family - mother Amanda; son Tom, who acts as narrator; and daughter Laura, who has physical and psychological disabilities - in a snapshot of their lives. Tom explores his past with his family: his sister's inability to interact with others and learn skills to become employed, his mother's overprotective and overbearing nature, and his own desire for a life that is more than just working in a factory. Each of these aspects come to a breaking point when Tom brings home a friend from work for dinner. This tragic occurrence leaves the family in shambles, culminating in Tom's decision to leave his family for the Merchant Marines.
Aux Dog Theatre's production of The Glass Menagerie works with the aspect of this play being a "memory play" in a variety of unique and brilliant ways, each of which bring a level of emotional connection and poignancy not seen in other productions. The use of music to highlight when the scenes are changing, fading from one of Tom's memories of his family to the next, gives the production an almost dream-like quality. This in turn emphasizes the fleeting way that memories can come and go, as well as how they may not always be reliable. The staging is sparse, highlighting a few key features of the home, such as the fire escape/landing or Laura's glass menagerie and Victrola, adding to this concept, as certain things stick in one's memory more than others.
The casting of this production truly shines. Director Frederick Ponzlov also plays Tom, thereby showing the character as an older man looking back on his life, bringing a rare depth to the production. Ponzlov does a formidable job with the role as, expressing Tom's inner turmoil perfectly through change in tone, facial expression, and body language. His ability to convey Tom's anguish at leaving his family years earlier is palpable, something that the audience was commenting on as they left after curtain close. As Laura, Tilcara Webb does a wonderful job with a difficult character - expressing the kind and delicate nature of her personality perfectly. She expresses the character's difficulty in interacting with people outside of her family through slight aspects of body language, such as Laura never sitting completely still, as she was always fiddling with her fingers. Sharon Skinner gives a powerful performance as Amanda, displaying the love the character has for her children at all times, even when Amanda may be hindering her children in her desire for them to have a future for themselves. As Jim, Pete Sheldon showed kindness and compassion for the Wingfield family, and his scenes with Webb displayed sweetness as Jim tried to help Laura be more comfortable with herself.
Aux Dog's The Glass Menagerie breathes new life into a classic play, bringing emotional depth to the production in a way that lingers with the audience long after the final scene. This production is one that should not be missed. The Glass Menagerie runs from February 21, 2020 - March 15, 2020. Productions are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 pm, with a Sunday matinee at 2:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased by calling (505) 596-0607 or online at: https://www.artful.ly/store/events/19714. Tickets range from $12-$23.