You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Glass Menagerie

There's a sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater's "The Glass Menagerie."

Cast:
Amanda - Judith Ivey Tom - Patch Darragh Laura - Keira Keeley Jim - Josh Charles

There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room where he is off on his own, attempting to become a writer — and his own man.

In Gordon Edelstein’s production of the familiar work, Tom (Patch Darragh) reclaims ownership of the play — however passively — from the force of nature that is his mother Amanda Wingfield (Judith Ivey). It becomes a private exorcism that plays out in this disturbing dream of an interpretation, where powerful ghosts from the past are conjured, confronted and finally released as art.

After a scene-setting prologue in which writer Tom rallies the strength to summon their spirits, Amanda and his sister Laura (Keira Keeley) step from Tom’s memory and literally walk into his hotel room, taking over the space and his story.

Initially, one wonders if the concept can be sustained; then one becomes intrigued and amazed by how well it is. Helmer Edelstein beautifully renders this dual reality in a production that shows how the past still pulls at the present in the mind of a man not at peace.

In this version, Darragh’s Tom is less the misunderstood poet than the stunted son, awkwardly grappling with his ineffectiveness, frustrations and personal secrets. But as the play progresses, he becomes emboldened, finally breaking free from his family to save — and find — himself.

Ivey’s Amanda is rightfully annoying, unnerving and desperate. But she also brings a Southern warmth, humor and practicality to the role, making this Amanda grounded in her own way even as she mixes delusions with dreams.

Keeley has the required fragility for Laura and even displays hints at a deeper psychosis beyond merely being “terribly shy.” Her tentative blooming in the scene with “gentleman caller” Jim (Josh Charles) is heartwarming and ultimately heartbreaking.

Charles is more than the snappy glad-hander, showing the cracks in his own confidence, especially when he realizes the unintended devastation he has caused by opening up to Laura.

That scene is beautifully presented by candlelight, a directorial affectation that rarely translates to audience satisfaction. But on Long Wharf’s modest thrust stage, the effect casts a flickering spell. Jennifer Tipton’s subtle lighting matches Michael Yeargan’s evocative set design, with both reflecting the faded intimacy of memory. Martin Pakledinaz’s costumes are also appropriate to the production’s muted palette.

The climactic confrontation between Amanda and Tom ends here with the slam of the hotel room door, with Amanda exiting instead of Tom. It’s a bracing reversal that in a theatrical instant completes Tom’s — as well as Williams’ — journey of the mind and soul. It comes with a poignant farewell from a newfound poet and a final breath across those candles.

The Glass Menagerie

Long Wharf Theater, New Haven, Conn.; 487 seats; $62 top

Production: A Long Wharf Theater presentation of a play in two acts by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Gordon Edelstein.

Creative: Sets, Michael Yeargan; costumes, Martin Pakledinaz; lighting, Jennifer Tipton; sound, David Budries; production stage manager, Monica A. Cuoco. Opened, reviewed May 20, 2009. Runs through June 7. Running time: 2 HOURS, 10 MIN.

Cast: Amanda - Judith Ivey Tom - Patch Darragh Laura - Keira Keeley Jim - Josh Charles

More Legit

  • The Prom Broadway

    Musical Comedy 'The Prom' Sets Broadway Run for November 2018

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

  • Torch Song review

    Off Broadway Review: Harvey Fierstein's 'Torch Song' With Michael Urie

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

  • Springsteen on Broadway opening

    Bruce Springsteen Extends Broadway Run?

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

  • Tracy Letts

    Stagecraft Podcast: Blackmail Led Tracy Letts to Acting (Listen)

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

  • profiles theatre Sexual Harassment

    Sexual Harassment in the Theater: How Chicago Fought Back

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

  • The Band's Visit

    Broadway Box Office: Promising Start for 'The Band's Visit'

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

  • Judd Apatow

    Judd Apatow on Weinstein Co. at Power of Women Luncheon: 'Shut It Down'

    There’s an especially sad, lonely and claustrophobic quality to the Long Wharf Theater’s revelatory production of Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie.” It starts when Tom walks through the door, not of the Depression-era family apartment in St. Louis he shared years ago with his mother and sister but rather that of a dingy hotel room […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content