BWW Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE Draws Audiences in at Sacramento Theatre Company
Tennessee Williams' memory play, The Glass Menagerie, was a timely choice for Sacramento Theatre Company to revive this season. In today's political climate fraught with worry, the average American can relate to Tom Wingfield, who is living in a country on the precipice of war and trying to provide for his mother and sister while putting his own wanderlust on hold.
Director Casey McClellan took artistic license to the original work and left most props to the viewer's imagination. As it is a memory play and memory is fluid, this approach worked. There were also changes made to the original script. Racial pejoratives were replaced with less offensive script or eliminated altogether which, while certainly appreciated in this day, I felt could have served as a reminder in our current situation of what we have worked so hard to rise above.
Jessica Bertine hit the mark with her lighting artistry. She managed to invoke a dreamy, hazy feel that made me feel as if I were going back in time.
Set movement deserves a place of mention, as I have never seen it done this way. Pieces were moved by only the actors and in perfect synchronicity. It came across as an important, choreographed part of the story.
Newcomers to STC, Katherine Stroller and Eric Craig, play Laura Wingfield and The Gentleman Caller, respectively. Ms. Stroller exuded an ethereal and fragile persona. Her shining moment came when being rejected by Jim, her Gentleman Caller. She handled it as I imagined Laura would, with poise and dignity. Mr. Craig had just the right amount of braggadocio, sensitivity and humility to make Jim work.
At first I was undecided about David Crane as Tom Wingfield. Could he handle such an important role as the narrator and carry the show? He really hit his stride during the argument between Tom and his mother, Amanda. I could see him become Tom Wingfield in that moment and harness all of the repressed rage and resentment he harbors towards his mother. It also became apparent that his comedic timing is impeccable. This momentum carried him through the show without departure from the character.
Janis Stevens completes the cast as the mother, Amanda Wingfield. A long-suffering former Southern belle who was left by her husband years ago, her primary purpose in life is to find a husband for her disabled daughter, Laura. Janis inhabited Amanda. She segued from Southern belle to overbearing mother effortlessly. In turn I felt impressed by, sorry for and disgusted by her. In short, she was captivating.
I thought that STC honorEd Williams with their interpretation of his autobiographical work. He would be pleased.
Glass Menagerie plays at Sacramento Theatre Company March 22nd-April 30th, 2017.
Photo Credit: Charr Crail