By now, the theatre-going public knows Tennessee Williams’ most popular and most performed play, THE GLASS MENAGERIE. Said to be Mr.Williams’ most “identifiable” play, it tells the story of Tom, the emerging writer and his wounded sister, Laura, living in a shabby St. Louis apartment controlled by his sweet - yet domineering - mother, Amanda. As Tom’s sister Laura is so deeply shy, into this unhappy mix arrives “The Gentleman Caller” who they hope will rescue them from a future of unhappiness.
One of the reasons why THE GLASS MENAGERIE rings with such truthfulness is that young Tennessee Williams lived much of it himself. As great a play as THE GLASS MENAGERIE is - and even though it remains so popular on Broadway and, especially, in community theatres all over the world - it is not an easy or sure-footed play. It requires a cast and a director who can deal with the fragile qualities of Mr.Williams’ hurtful script. Happily, the Marigny Theatre has [a] gifted director and a cast of talented actors exactly right for each realistic role.
[This] director ... never “pushes” his actors into histrionics – instead, he permits the action and the high emotions to flow easily and naturally.
Keith Launey is ideal as Tom, the Tennessee Williams character, about to abandon his contentious mother and his crippled sister Laura, played by the ravishing Liz Mills (who never makes a false move on stage). Leon Contavesprie, as the Gentleman Caller, the only healthy minded-character in THE GLASS MENAGERIE, provides the easy charm and strength his role requires.
But this play is dominated by Amanda, the saccharine mother who rules her children like a drill sergeant. Although I have seen THE GLASS MENAGERIE many times, I cannot imagine an actress more comfortable in the role than Lyla Hay Owen. Her southern charm drips like soft candy, but so does her power and determined intent. Ms. Owen’s brilliant performance cinches this GLASS MENAGERIE as the best ever seen.
The proof of the production’s magic is that you can hear the audience’s sniffles at the close.
The director’s skillful handling of the emotional mood music punctuates the tagline every theatrical company longs to hear: “A GENUINE HIT!”
Don’t miss THE GLASS MENAGERIE at the Marigny Theatre through this weekend. Let’s pray that it will be held over - and over.
Top Rating: 4
My Rating: 4
WYES-12, New Orleans' Public Broadcasting Station
And, no, we will not be holding this baby over.