THEATER REVIEW: “The Glass Menagerie” @ Barrington Stage Company [Berkshire on Stage]
Review by Macey Levin
In 1945, Tennessee Williams gave us The Glass Menagerie, which earned him a number of awards and propelled him into his ranking as a major American playwright. His canon of plays led by A Streetcar Named Desire, Summer and Smoke, The Rose Tattoo, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Sweet Bird of Youth and Orpheus Descending secured his place in the pantheon of American theater artists. Menagerie has been revived several times on Broadway and has been performed by many major regional theaters across the country. The current production at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield is gripping.
It probably isn‘t necessary to summarize the plot of the play since it has a special place in the American theater. Suffice it to say that it is a memory play about the Depression-era Wingfield family in St. Louis after the husband/father deserted them 16 years earlier. The clash between Tom Wingfield (Mark H. Dold) and his mother Amanda (Caitlin O’Connell) and the fears of his profoundly shy sister Laura (Angela Janas) and their resolution (or lack of resolution) is the core of the play.
Director Julianne Boyd has made several intriguing choices starting at the very top of the show. Dold enters and begins his opening monologue while the house lights are still on. Perhaps the intention is to create an intimate relationship with the audience and to set him apart from the story he is about to narrate. The same thing occurs at the beginning of the second act while the audience is still filing in and talking amongst themselves. Only a loudly projected first line of this monologue sent the audience scampering to their seats.