Theatre review: The Glass Menagerie, Selwyn Theatre

By Paul Simei-Barton

Tennessee Williams' Glass Menagerie explores a man's memories of a mother who wanted to make her children perfect. Dionne Christian reports.

The cast of The Glass Menagerie make every gesture count. Photo / Natalie Slade
The cast of The Glass Menagerie make every gesture count. Photo / Natalie Slade

The journey to an unfamiliar venue is abundantly rewarded in ATC's brilliant interpretation of one of the masterworks of American literature.

Tennessee Williams' vision is carried by the simplest of storylines that turns on a dinner party given by a faded Southern belle hoping to lure an outsider into marrying her damaged daughter.

Acclaimed American director Jef Hall-Flavin brings an openness to poetic ambiguity and skilfully blends the catharsis of tragedy with the vitality of romance. The production is grounded in the bleak struggle to survive in the dissolving economy of the 1930s but vigorously affirms the transformative potential of hope.

The superb cast show a deep appreciation of the delicately balanced emotional structure in which the slightest gesture can modify our interpretation of the play.

Elizabeth Hawthorne's marvellous portrait of a mad matriarch illuminates the heroic dignity of a woman who has enjoyed gracious living and is determined her daughter will taste the life she has lost.

Antonia Prebble is utterly mesmerising as an exquisitely fragile soul who achieves a luminous beauty through her stoicism and humility.

Richard Knowles' gentleman-caller shows how the naive optimism of the American Dream carries the genuinely uplifting power of hope.

Edwin Wright is a poet trapped in a shoe warehouse and his yearning to escape family responsibilities is given poignancy by his awareness that artistic freedom comes with the loss of human tenderness.

John Parker's design strikes the perfect balance between solidity and memory. Commonplace objects are endowed with an emblematic quality as they spin through a dreamscape created by light, sound and video projection.

Theatre

What: The Glass Menagerie
Where: Selwyn Theatre, Kohimarama, until June 8.

- NZ Herald

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