Arts & Culture Featured Music & Events Fara Illich April 6, 2010

I was in the audience for Saturday’s performance of The Glass Menagerie at Herberger Theater and I’m happy to report that all of the reviews are true: The play is phenomenal. And bring a tissue.
MenagerieBTo fully appreciate The Glass Menagerie, you should know a little about American playwright Tennessee “Thomas” Williams (1911-1983). Williams wrote The Glass Menagerie in 1945. He grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, with a stern, alcoholic father, a borderline hysterical mother, and a schizophrenic sister who was later lobotomized, something that would haunt Williams for the rest of his life. Interestingly, The Glass Menagerie takes place in St. Louis and follows Tom, Amanda, and Laura Wingfield as they try to survive together inside a claustrophobic tenement apartment in the 1930’s.
Tom Wingfield (Noel Joseph Allain) is the frustrated son of Amanda Wingfield (Catalina Maynard). A wannabe writer, Tom spends long days at a factory job he loathes and avoiding his domineering mother who wants desperately to return to her Southern belle glory days and the husband who abandoned them. His painfully shy sister Laura (Barbra Wengerd) spends her days polishing her glass collection and falling deeper into a psychological abyss. Quickly, you realize that each member of the Wingfield family is as breakable as Laura’s glass collection. But then one day Tom brings home a gregarious “gentlemen caller” for Laura, Jim O’Connor (Brian Ibsen), and for a moment you wonder if Jim also brings a glimmer of hope to the Wingfields.
The Glass Menagerie is a timeless play about delicate family relationships, unrealized dreams, and betrayal. Through Tom Wingfield, you could imagine Tennessee Williams’ early years in St. Louis and the painful experiences that would shape his life. In particular, I thought that Catalina Maynard’s performance as Amanda stole the show. She was perfect as the controlling mother who talked more than she listened and demanded more than she shared, while simultaneously vulnerable and intolerable. In addition to the cast, the stage was also a character in the play. The furniture and walls from the Wingfield apartment moved effortlessly on and off the stage, making the story feel lighter, darker, and more claustrophobic as the story required. Additionally, Jay Golden (Violin Player) provided achingly beautiful music that captured the emotional tone throughout the play.
Bring a few tissues and let yourself fall back in time as you watch The Glass Menagerie and the story that shaped Tennessee Williams. The play is at The Herberger till April 11.
Call the Herberger Box Office at 602.256.6995 or visit