‘The Glass Menagerie’ is nominated for 7 Olivier Awards (including Best Director for John Tiffany) at the prestigious annual awards ceremony. This stunning revival of Tennessee Williams’ play has received great critical acclaim, so in this blog we look at all the things that have made audiences and ourselves fall in love with The Glass Menagerie.
The Glass Menagerie was originally staged all the way back in 1944, in Chicago. Written by the great American playwright Tennessee Williams, know for such classics as ‘A Street Car Named Desire’ and ‘Cat on a Hot Tin Roof‘ – soon to also be revived on the West End, directed by Benedict Andrews and starring Sienna Miller (The Girl, America Sniper, Stardust) and BAFTA Award-winner Jack O’Connell (71, Skins).
The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, self-proclaimed at the beginning of the play by lead character Tom (Michel Esper) painting the picture of his past life as he is surrounded by the breath-taking, Olivier-Nominated set, designed by Ben Crowly (performing double duty for his design work picking up a second nomination for his work on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) which consists of a few elegant and well placed set pieces. It perfectly outlines the small 1930’s St Louis apartment shadowed by a distorted fire escape disappearing into the heavens as light gracefully trickles down hitting the stage below. This fabulous lighting is designed by Natasha Katz who is not unknown to the West End’s hit shows. She has worked on the likes of School of Rock, Disney’s Aladdin, An American In Paris and Motown. The combination of the aesthetic of the set with the lighting design makes the production effortlessly beautiful.
We are then introduced to Tom’s Mother Amanda Wingfield played by another Olivier-Nominee Cherry Jones who reprises her role from the Broadway production. Amanda is a southern belle who has clearly been hit hard by her fall of status after her unnamed husband abandoned the family. This plays heavily on Tom throughout the performance as he wonders if he should follow in his father’s footsteps in search for adventure while battling with the moral dilemma of leaving his mother and disabled sister, Olivier-Nominated Kate O’flynn, without a provider.
The last character to which we are introduced comes in the for of the gentleman caller, Tom’s long-time friend and work colleague, he speaks of his co-worker with great fondness. Brain J.Smith who plays the Gentleman Caller comes across with great charm and boyish confidence whilst displaying crippling insecurities creating a deeply complex and interesting character. Smith also received an Olivier Nomination for this role. Amanda persuades Tom to invite The Gentleman Caller to dinner in attempt to set Laura up with him. This is where O’Flynn and Smith shine as their chemistry is palpable and the two actors work off each other really well.
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