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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, October 1, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 40
Glass Menagerie a rare miss for Theater Schmeater
Arts & Entertainment
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Glass Menagerie a rare miss for Theater Schmeater

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

The Glass Menagerie
Theater Schmeater
Through October 16


The Glass Menagerie is probably one of America's best-known plays, but not necessarily one that people have seen on stage. It is often studied in school. It is a searing portrayal of a broken family trying to make it through difficult times. Like many Williams plays, there is a strong, though tortured, Southern woman at the center. Theater Schmeater is staging the play and, as directed by J.D. Lloyd, this is a welcome opportunity to experience the staged version. Lloyd has added a modern touch with a projection screen that shows pictures of what people are thinking or describing that adds a bit of visual poetry.

Tom (Patrick Lennon) is a factory worker who aspires to much more in his life, but he is saddled with an overbearing mother, Amanda (Karen Gruber Ryan), firmly rooted in a past where she was a cherished Southern belle, and a sister so shy she vomits over going to business school classes. Sister Laura (Mariah Caine Ware), who has a congenital leg defect, would rather sit at home listening to gramophone records and playing with her glass animal collection.

At her wits' end over Laura, Amanda demands that Tom bring home a factory worker to meet Laura. Tom invites Jim (Zach Adair), who turns out to have been exactly the guy that Laura had a high school crush on. Jim is stuck in his warehouse position, but warms under Laura's admiration for his high school accomplishments and even encourages Laura to have better self-esteem - until he inadvertently destroys any of his encouragement by revealing that he's engaged to someone else. Amanda is so incensed by Tom's failure to know Jim was engaged that she browbeats him into finally leaving altogether, leaving her and Laura to an unknown fate.

The trio of young people - Adair, Lennon, and Caine Ware - all inhabit their roles well, and the second act picks up energy with the entrance of Adair. A significant problem, however, is with Ryan's portrayal of Amanda as a woman who is fretful, regretful, and whiny, rather than remote, living a life of fantasy-removed-from-reality and austerely, unrealistically cruel, caustic, and commanding. Amanda's children are damaged, and not just by the abandonment of the family by their father. Amanda has a huge negative impact on them and this production doesn't clarify that well. Tom's departure ends up looking deceitful, rather than a desperate effort to save his own life. Laura's lack of self-esteem almost looks like a lifestyle choice rather than a condition of living with Amanda.

While the set (by Brendan Mack), costumes (by Julia Evanovich), lights (by Dave Baldwin), and sound (by Skyler Burger) all enhance the experience, overall the production misses the mark. It's a rare miss for the Schmee, so look forward to their world-premiere production of Vestal Virgins by Marcy Rodenborn, opening November 19. For more information, go to www.schmeater.org or call 206-324-5801.

Comments on reviews go to sgncritic@gmail.com.

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