You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Glass Menagerie

Oh dear, oh dear. Where to begin? The first sign of trouble in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Tennessee Williams' gossamer memory play, "The Glass Menagerie," is John Iacovelli's gorgeous--but totally inappropriate--scenic design of the Wingfield apartment.

Tom Wingfield - Raphael Sbarge
Amanda Wingfield - Susan Sullivan
Laura Wingfield - Rachel Robinson
Jim O'Connor - Tony Crane

Oh dear, oh dear. Where to begin? The first sign of trouble in the Pasadena Playhouse production of Tennessee Williams’ gossamer memory play, “The Glass Menagerie,” is John Iacovelli’s gorgeous — but totally inappropriate — scenic design of the Wingfield apartment. The too-small quarters of a rundown St. Louis apartment have been usurped by an elegant home with fashionable furnishings and airy, spacious rooms sprawled across the entire stage. The enormous set banishes any sense of oppressiveness building from hot sun, constant belittlement and confined movement in cramped rooms. Intimacy here is impossible. It soon becomes clear that everything in this production is distorted, oversized and utterly misguided.

Director Andrew J. Robinson (The Matrix’s “Waiting for Godot” and South Coast Rep’s “The Beauty Queen of Leenan”) seems to have lost his senses. In a show where the famous fragility of the Williams’ women is even symbolized by the title, Robinson wields a heavy hand, breaking off every sense of delicacy in these characters much the same way that Jim accidentally breaks the horn off Laura’s favorite glass animal, the unicorn. The effect of both actions is to transform something once unique and magical into something ordinary and commonplace.

Any opportunity for comic interpretation — even in the most dramatic of moments — is played for sitcom value. Too many lines are shouted, and virtually all subtlety and nuance have been excised.

Susan Sullivan’s Amanda is no faded Southern belle, desperately clinging to a more genteel past. Her Amanda is born of a heartier stock. Her anger is believable; her flirtatiousness is not. Scenes with Tom (Raphael Sbarge) scarcely touch more complex levels of resentment, frustration, disappointment and fear.

Sbarge’s Tom has none of the poet or dreamer about him, and he fails to show his love and protectiveness of Laura (Rachel Robinson). Worse, no conflict arises from his decision to leave home, which means abandoning his sister as well. Robinson offers only surface indications of Laura’s nervousness. She conveys no sense of fragility, either physically or emotionally. And in a strange candlelight scene with Jim (Tony Crane), her refusal to make eye contact plays as blindness rather than timidity.

J. Kent Inasy’s lighting and Dione H. Lebhar’s costumes are unreliable — sometimes hitting, but often missing, the mark. Other missteps are too numerous to mention, but all have to do with playing hardball in a show that requires a certain amount of tenderness. If you want classic Williams, keep looking. It’s not at the Pasadena Playhouse.

The Glass Menagerie

The Pasadena Playhouse; 682 seats; $42.50

Production: A Pasadena Playhouse presentation of a drama in two acts by Tennessee Williams. Directed by Andrew J. Robinson.

Creative: Sets, John Iacovelli; costumes, Dione H. Lebhar; lights, J. Kent Inasy; original music and sound, Mitch Greenhill; hair, wigs, makeup, Judi Lewin. Opened and reviewed May 14. Closes June 18. Running time: 2 HOURS 20 MINUTES.

Cast: Tom Wingfield - Raphael Sbarge
Amanda Wingfield - Susan Sullivan
Laura Wingfield - Rachel Robinson
Jim O'Connor - Tony Crane

More Legit

  • Alexander Dinelaris

    'Jekyll and Hyde' Movie in the Works Based on Broadway Musical

    The Broadway musical “Jekyll and Hyde” is getting the movie treatment from Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris. Dinelaris, who is writing and producing the adaptation, won an Oscar for the “Birdman” script and was a co-producer on “The Revenant.” He is producing “Jekyll and Hyde” as the first project under his New York-based development company, [...]

  • Sam Mendes

    Listen: The 'Balls-Out Theatricality' of Sam Mendes

    If you find yourself directing a Broadway play with a cast so big it includes a goose, two rabbits, more kids than you can count and an actual infant, what do you do? If you’re Sam Mendes, you embrace the “balls-out theatricality” of it all. Listen to this week’s podcast below: More Reviews Film Review: [...]

  • James Corden Tony Awards

    James Corden to Host 2019 Tony Awards (EXCLUSIVE)

    James Corden has been tapped to once again host the Tony Awards, Variety has learned exclusively. “The Late Late Show” host previously emceed the annual theater awards show in 2016, and won the Tony for best actor in a play for his performance in “One Man, Two Guvnors” in 2012. More Reviews Film Review: ‘Made in [...]

  • Frozen review Broadway

    ‘Frozen’ the Musical Opening in London in 2020

    “Frozen” the musical is coming to London and will open in the West End in fall 2020. The Michael Grandage-directed Disney Theatrical Productions stage show has been on Broadway for a year. Grandage’s production is now set to re-open Andrew Lloyd Webber’s refurbished Theatre Royal Drury Lane. More Reviews Film Review: ‘Made in Abyss: Journey’s [...]

  • Nantucket Sleigh Ride review

    Off Broadway Review: John Guare's 'Nantucket Sleigh Ride'

    Anyone who doesn’t have a cottage on the Cape or the Islands, as they say in Massachusetts, might be puzzled by the title of John Guare’s new play.  “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” is no Revere Beach amusement park ride, but an old whaling term for the death throes of a whale that is still attached to [...]

  • Kiss Me Kate review

    Broadway Review: 'Kiss Me, Kate'

    No, Kate doesn’t get spanked. And for those wondering how the dicey ending of “Kiss Me, Kate” — that musical mashup of “The Taming of the Shrew” and backstage battling exes — would come across in these more sensitive times, well, that’s also been reconsidered for the Roundabout Theatre Company’s Broadway revival of the Cole [...]

  • Betrayal review Tom Hiddleston

    West End Review: Tom Hiddleston in 'Betrayal'

    It takes three to tango, and Jamie Lloyd’s “Betrayal” completely grasps that. Having made it his mission to modernize the way we stage Harold Pinter’s plays, his chic, stripped-down staging starring Tom Hiddleston as a cuckolded husband might be his best attempt yet. Pared back and played out on an empty stage, this masterful play [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content