Black Swan Theatre: The Glass Menagerie

The Glass Menagerie is a timeless, contemporary American classic. Tennessee Williams’ beautifully crafted, semi-autobiographical play portrays the transformation of Tom Wingfield from a St Louis warehouse worker during the depression who can only dream of adventure, to a merchant seaman who wanders the world.
Black Swan Theatre: The Glass Menagerie
The Glass Menagerie is a timeless, contemporary American classic. Tennessee Williams’ beautifully crafted, semi-autobiographical play portrays the transformation of Tom Wingfield from a St Louis warehouse worker during the depression who can only dream of adventure, to a merchant seaman who wanders the world. Tom’s freedom comes at a cost: he must escape his overbearing mother and his adoring, childlike sister, Laura, who is only free to express herself with the animals in her glass menagerie. When Tom’s attempt to provide Laura with a gentleman caller ends in disaster, he is forced to abandon his sister in order to save himself. This Black Swan State Theatre Company production directed by Artistic Director Kate Cherry is an accomplished one with this ‘memory play’. Cherry has not shied away from the realism that the gifted Williams writes with, and the clear strength of language and stage orientation is well served by her direction. Fluid, convincing scene changes combined with the building claustrophobic character tension reflect a well harnessed and illuminating interpretation. Through Tom, as narrator positioned as if on the deck of his merchant ship, Cherry has orchestrated the melancholic era of America history through musical accompaniment that glides through to the audience like a disquieting character. Paul Grabowsky and saxophonist Graeme Blevins capture the sad lyrical essences and they are well implemented in the production. It is really brought home that this is a play relevant to our gloomy global times, and that the Gentleman Caller (boldly delivered by Myles Pollard) personifies the hope and raw vitality we need to survive hard times pertinent to today. Laura Wingfield is played with a highly sensitive quality by Melanie Munt which is sometimes a bit impenetrable for her fantasy world bound up in the glass menagerie doesn’t seem possible. This does not detract from the seamless tragic denouement which whispers of a new hope for Laura’s life via Munts’ stoic portrayal. Steve Turner as Tom is comfortable in the idioms he inhabits, and convincing as the suffocated son of a disillusioned mother, Amanda (Gillian Jones). Jones brings pathos to an unlikeable character rendering Amanda as a gilted intense woman whose abandonment by her husband ‘who fell in love with long distance’ highly watchable and believable. It is true for all the acting that the language is beautifully revealing through their playing, and serves Tennessee Williams as a wordsmith brilliantly. With the creatives on this production, set and costume designer Adam Gardnir has created a superb surreal environment with its angular perspex framing as if allowing the outside world in without fear or favour. Written by a great American playwright at the height of his powers and brought to life by a formidable company of actors, The Glass Menagerie offers a moving night at the theatre. Director: Kate Cherry Set & Costume Designer: Adam Gardnir Lighting Designer: Jon Buswell Featuring: Gillian Jones, Myles Pollard, Melanie Munt and Steve Turner The Glass Menagerie, Black Swan State Theatre. Tickets: Standard $48, Concession $40, Groups 8+ $38 (plus 1 free ticket for every 10 tickets purchased), Previews $38, Students $20. Bookings: BOCS Ticketing, ph (08) 9484 1133, Groups 8+ ph (08) 9321 6831.

Gillian Clark

Friday 20 March, 2009

About the author

Gill Clark is an arts hub reviewer based in Perth.