- Terelle Jerricks
By John Farrell
The Glass Menagerie is great American playwright, Tennessee Williams, first play and the Long Beach Playhouse will give it more than just a respectable revival through the middle of next month. But perhaps the key word should actually be “respectful” instead.
Phyllis B. Gitlin directs the play and though she uses her stage effectively, Glass Menagerie is treated as the classic it is. It may take another century before we get to see Williams done innovatively.
Tom Wingfield (the handsome Adam S. Mahan) introduces the play and also plays a central role. He tells us from the start this is a memory of his past, and whatever inaccuracies the play may have in dates and times can be laid to his memories of his mother and sister and childhood in a St. Louis tenement.
That mother is Amanda (Carmen Tunis), the first of many Williams characters that are faded flowers of the South. She managed to hold her family together with memories and limited income since her husband abandoned them 16 years previously. Laura (Darri Kristin) is her young daughter, walking with a limp and so shy and withdrawn that she spends much of her time cleaning and polishing her glass menagerie, a collection of miniatures that let her have a fantasy life.
Into the mix comes Jim (the dynamic Darren Bailey), who comes to dinner and, briefly, brings Laura out of herself. But he is engaged to another young woman and at play’s end Tom has left for adventure (like his missing father) and Laura and Amanda are left alone again.
The story is in the emotional interaction of the characters and the play’s setting, and the latter is less than effective. The tenement that the family lives in, designed by Greg Fritsche, is too elegant by half, and you never really feel the bite of poverty and isolation the play is supposed to produce. Still, Glass Menagerie is elegantly acted and you will get to know an American classic, which is a surprise in a world where every other play is either by or inspired by some guy name Shakespeare.
Tickets are $24, $21 for seniors, $14 for students. Performances are Friday, September 28 at 8 p.m., Saturday, September 29 at 8 p.m., Sunday, September 30 at 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sundays at 2 p.m. through October 13.
Details: (562) 494-1014, www.lbplayhouse.org
Venue: Long Beach Playhouse Mainstage Theatre
Location: 5021 East Anaheim, Long Beach