The Glass Menagerie at Syracuse Stage
The Glass Menagerie was playwright Tennessee Williams’ first big success and it catapulted him to fame and fortune. It still is one of the greatest American plays of all time. It is also his most personal and intimate play.
This Syracuse Stage production directed by artistic director Timothy Bond is a rare interpretation that fully incorporates the author’s stage directions and production notes. Projections of words and images enhance the memory theme of the play. At first this is slightly off-putting, especially the light changes, but this only lasts for a bit, and this artistic choice quickly blends and seems organic.
The set by William Bloodgood is great and invokes effectively the depression era tenement gloom and oppression. Yet, the suspended windows also give the impression of the desire to escape. The entire design team is spectacular for that matter and the play feels like you are in another time and place.
As a four character play, every actor’s performance is crucial and all actors are to be commended. However stand outs are the two actors playing the Wingfield children, Adriana Gaviria as Laura and Joseph Midyett as Tom Wingfield, the play’s narrator. Gaviria often resembles and sounds like a young Elizabeth Taylor. She has an innate vulnerability and never overplays this. She is especially effective in her silences as she begins to realize her dreams are slowly slipping away. There is something dignified in her Laura that is often lost in other actresses that play her too much like a victim. Midyett, sporting a jaunty moustache brings a wry humor to the role. He does not dwell in bitterness and is not an angry Tom at all. His frustration is there, but he uses his sense of humor as a coping mechanism and has the optimism that feels organic to such a dreamer.
I also like director Bond’s tactile choices. These actors touch a great deal and it brings a familiarity that families would naturally have to the forefront. Often the play is directed with great distances between the characters. Of course that is the obvious choice as it would underline the distance that keeps all of them in their own “glass” worlds. However it is actually more powerful to see characters seemingly connect but ultimately see this isn’t enough to keep the family together.
Once Again, Syracuse Stage gives its audience a stellar, shining production of an American Classic.
Sunday, November 23, 2014, Watertown, NY