We tend to reduce Tennessee Williams to a soundbite in our brains. That soundbite is most likely to be Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski yelling, “Stella!” or maybe his sister-in-law rattling on about the kindness of strangers.
Williams’ arguably second most famous play, The Glass Menagerie is the one with the crazy mother rattling on about “gentleman callers,” the “terribly shy” daughter – based on Williams’ own mentally ill sister, and the son with the artistic temperament working at a shoe factory.
Can this self-proclaimed “memory play” be rescued from our own distorted memories of it?
The answer based on this most recent production now at the Booth Theater would be a resounding YES.
In the first moments when Zachary Quinto appears on the stage at Tom, I had reservations. The structure is artificial as he reminds us, but once he sat down on the family couch and his sister (ably played by Celia Keenan-Bolger) appeared as if by (stage) magic beside him, all doubts lifted. The audience was transported to the dingy depression era flat in St Louis and the sister and mother, Tom had left behind years before.
That Quinto was able to pull off this dual characterization – Tom as young man and Tom as somewhat older one looking back – should be no surprise. This is after all a man who managed to make Mr Spock his own, while also channelling our memories of the original.
Of course the star of the evening is Cherry Jones, and she is extraordinary. Her Amanda may talk of her old days as a Southern belle before she made the mistake of marrying the wrong man, but she is a survivor who wants to ensure the survival of her children. She may talk of her the past, but she lives in Continue reading The Glass Menagerie — Run, Don’t Walk to the Booth