Friday, October 17, 2008

Playhouse's "Menagerie" Proves Timely

Posted on Fri, Oct 17, 2008 at 4:00 AM

There are lines in The Glass Menagerie that sound like they might have been written yesterday as a deliberate anti-venom for the disorder reigning throughout America's politics and economy. The frequently produced play sounds brand-new, especially in its earliest moments when Tom Wingfield — a dramatic doppelganger for playwright, Tennessee Williams — summons up visions from a time when "the huge middle class of America was matriculating in a school for the blind."

"Their eyes had failed them or they had failed their eyes," Tom says. And, as a result of this colossal vision crisis, Americans were "having their fingers pressed forcibly down on the fiery Braille alphabet of a dissolving economy."

Elsewhere there was revolution, Tom says. Back home there was only shouting and confusion.

Williams' first hit premiered in Chicago in 1944 and has as much to say to audiences anticipating a Depression today as it did to WWII-era audiences revisiting "that quaint period of the 1930s."

Menagerie's director Miles Potter, a University of Memphis alum who now works and resides in Canada, has coaxed exceptional, energetic work from his actors. For the most part, he has delivered a glowing, emotionally honest, and painfully sympathetic vision of Williams' American grotesque that moves along at a comfortable pace without losing any of the play's dreamier qualities. But for all of its charm, this Glass Menagerie isn't everything it could be. ...

Read the rest of Chris Davis' review here.


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