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Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Original Theatre Black Dog

Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Original Theatre Black Dog

The production runs now through November 12th.

Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Original Theatre Black Dog
Kowan Russell & Holly Madland in THE GLASS
MENAGERIE at Orinigal Theatre Black Dog
Photo Credit: Anthony Floyd

THE GLASS MENAGERIE invites you to lean in and join the world of the Wingfield Family. Hopes and fears trouble the waters of an uncertain future with equal measure. The ties that bind us can bring us closer, but they can also prevent us from growing. THE GLASS MENAGERIE explores the multitude of emotions that erupt as a family seeks to find stability and security. The show quietly winds its way through their decisions and indecision and straight into your heart.

In THE GLASS MENAGERIE, Tennessee Williams touched on many themes of his own childhood. The Wingfield family is doing their best to make their way after Mr. Wingfield left to start a new life without them. The mother, Amanda Wingfield, has occasional odd jobs, but mostly fusses over her two children and their futures. No detail is too small to merit her instruction, and her overbearing nature has alienated her son Tom. His dreams have been reduced to working in a warehouse where he often sneaks off to write poetry. The daughter, Laura, is crippled after an earlier bout of pleurisy. She is so self-conscious of her disability that her shyness has become debilitating, leading her to become reclusive and obsessing over her glass animal collection. With hopes of finding a new future and financial support, Mother encourages Tom to bring home a friend from The Warehouse as a gentleman caller for Laura. The dinner party takes some unusual turns and each must face their own fears and hopes for the future.

Anthony Floyd pulls double duty playing both the part of Tom and serving as the narrator. As Tom he pulses with the frustration of an interfering mother and unfulfilled dreams of his own. He nimbly transitions from irate outbursts aimed at his mother to tender gestures toward his character, intertwining them into a complex character. As the narrator Floyd showcases the beauty of William's language and the timelessness of the play. Karen Beisner as Amanda Wingfield will get under your skin. Yet she manages to make her constant instructions to her children come not from a place of control but caring. Her belief of that a gentleman caller for Laura could be the answer to all their problems is reminiscent of Jane Austen's Mrs. Bennet and her relentless pursuit to get her daughters married. Fifteen minutes into the show you want to strangle her, but Beisner will whittle away your resolve until you find true sympathy for Amanda and her situation. The Gentleman Caller is played by Kowan Russell with a fresh energy that interrupts the stagnation of the Wingfield home. Despite his own struggles in life, he carries his burdens with a lightness that makes him markedly different from the others. Russell exudes this lightness in everything from his walk and manner to the warmth of his smile. Holly Madland as Laura probably has the fewest lines in the show. Madland tells us Laura's story not with words but rather with her eyes. We can see and feel her yearning, her fear, her devotion, and her resignation to her fate. The sincerity emanating from her was palpable and touching.

The production team turned a dance studio into a beautiful black box theater. Lighting Design by Rose Amlin and Jane Amlin beautifully carried you from scene to scene and reflected the changes in tone with warm and cool light. Director Susan Bradford allowed the play to breathe with natural movement and kept an unstudied look throughout the show. Set design by John Beisner gave them multiple areas for action while keeping everything open and connected. Now if he could have gotten everyone on board with where the door to the apartment was and if it were open or closed, his triumph would have been complete.

This show is a slow burn. It is not full of flash and awe or great events, but rather simple words, small decisions, and meaningful looks that shape and determine the trajectory of the lives of the characters. The story remains popular as its themes continue to touch us today. Are we willing to sacrifice our futures for those we love? Will we let our perceived limitations determine our worth? How will we respond when our life doesn't look like what we had imagined? Do we really have no choices or is that fear talking? These questions that the Wingfields struggle with are still relevant today. Being abandoned by someone you loved leaves a lasting scare. Will it make you stronger or fragile and brittle? This show doesn't lecture on what you could or should do, but rather reminds us that we are all human and carrying unseen burdens. And we should treat each other with kindness and gentleness as if handling a piece of the glass menagerie.



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From This Author - Kelly Rogers Flynt

Born and educated in the South, Kelly Rogers Flynt has happily transitioned to life in the Pacific Northwest where she enjoys more rain and fewer mosquitos. She works as a director, choreographer,&... (read more about this author)


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Review: THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Original Theatre Black DogReview: THE GLASS MENAGERIE at Original Theatre Black Dog
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THE GLASS MENAGERIE invites you to lean in and join the world of the Wingfield Family. Hopes and fears trouble the waters of an uncertain future with equal measure. The ties that bind us can bring us closer, but they can also prevent us from growing. THE GLASS MENAGERIE explores the multitude of emotions that erupt as a family seeks to find stability and security. The show quietly winds its way through their decisions and indecision and straight into your heart.

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