Review: The Glass Menagerie at WYP – ‘A wonderful new take on a classic’
[All photographs credited to Tristram Kenton]
It must be challenging to embark on putting on a production of a Tennessee Williams classic, but the recent West Yorkshire Playhouse production of The Glass Menagerie was effortlessly brilliant.
Described as a “memory play”, The Glass Menagerie is narrated by Tom (played by Tom Mothersdale), a warehouse worker desperate to escape his claustrophobic home life. His mother, Amanda (Greta Scacchi), was left by her alcoholic husband and has still not yet adjusted to being left alone financially or emotionally. She is determined to find a “gentleman caller” for her mentally fragile daughter, Laura (Erin Doherty), who walks with a limp after a childhood illness. Laura is in a world of her own, obsessed with her collection of little glass animals.
All three characters find their own ways of escaping the world they live in, and this theme is captured expertly in this latest production.
Tom brings home a suitable gentleman caller, Jim O’Conner (Eric Kofi Abrefa), who we discovers is Laura’s high school crush. Jim tries to boost Laura’s confidence, and the scenes between the two characters are superb. The magical, ethereal world Abrefa and Doherty create is stunning.
Erin Doherty offers a flawless performance as Laura. The character is a difficult one to play, but Doherty creates a character that is as fragile and beautiful as the world of glass animals she lives in.
Tom Mothersdale and Eric Kofi Abrefa as Tom and Jim, respectively, are both brilliant. Each offer solid, emotional performances and create characters the audience can empathise with.
Greta Scacchi’s Amanda, however, is irritating at best. She reminds me of a comedy spinster in a soap opera, and offers little subtlety to a role that could have been played with several layers of vulnerability. The shrill portrayal of Amanda may have been Director Ellen McDougall’s vision, but for me it didn’t quite work.
Overall, the play is expertly produced, with minimalist set and lighting providing an almost eerie backdrop to the play. The audience is fully immersed in this family’s life, and the cast and crew have done a wonderful job in bringing Tennessee Williams’ play to the modern audience.
Catch The Glass Menagerie at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 3rd October.