Cherry Jones is acknowledged as one of the finest actresses on the American stage. I saw her first in 1998 in “Pride’s Crossing” at Lincoln Center. She played a woman from childhood to dotage with no change in make-up, making you believe the age of her characters with the expressions and twists of her face and the angles and rhythms of her body and walk.
There are productions by which you can mark a moment in your life – the way you would treasure and recall an encounter with a loved one. This production will be that for anyone lucky enough to see it.
How can something be this delicate and this strong, so elusive and yet so tenacious? That question radiates from John Tiffany’s stunning production of Tennessee Williams’s “Glass Menagerie,” which opened on Thursday night at the Booth Theater and promises to be the most revealing revival of a cornerstone classic for many a year to come.
No ifs, ands or buts — “The Glass Menagerie” should break your heart.
The new Broadway revival starring Cherry Jones and Zachary Quinto cracks it wide open. The striking production also opens your eyes to fresh insights in Tennessee Williams’ mid-’40s breakthrough.
It’s a remarkable achievement, considering how familiar we’ve become with the drama of overbearing Amanda Wingfield, her fragile daughter, Laura, and restless son, Tom.
Memory is a delicate thing, not unlike a glass unicorn. Tennessee Williams’ memory play The Glass Menagerie, on Broadway through Jan. 5 in an exquisite production by director John Tiffany, is just as fragile, striking a delicate balance between realism and stylized abstraction.
The triumph of director Tiffany’s near-perfect realization of the Williams memory play is that, impressive as Jones is, she can’t be designated the first among equals. She’s working with three others who match her mood turn for mood turn. This is ensemble playing of high order.
Amanda Wingfield has once again been let loose on Broadway. But don’t worry, she won’t scare you this time.
The overbearing matriarch in Tennessee Williams’ semi-autobiographical classic The Glass Menageriecan, in the wrong hands, emerge as something of a monster. But as played by Cherry Jones in the magnificent and harrowing new revival (**** out of four) that opened Thursday at the Booth Theatre, she is most haunting for her robust but fragile humanity.
Her grown children — crippled, desperately shy Laura and Tom, an aspiring poet who supports them with mind-numbing factory work while longing to escape — may have suffered at her domineering hands. But Amanda never meant to oppress them, any more than she chose to be abandoned by their father years before. She is, she admits, “bewildered by life.”
The movement is small, abrupt and oddly graceful for an act of clumsiness. It happens so fast that you’re surprised that you didn’t miss it. Then again, how could you have?
Because with that quick, backward step, which occurs during Tom Wingfield’s opening monologue in the gorgeous new production of “The Glass Menagerie” at the American Repertory Theater, something both momentous and commonplace has happened.
The epigraph that Tennessee Williams provided for his semi-autobiographical 1944 play “The Glass Menagerie” is the last line of a poem by E.E. Cummings: “Nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands.”
That could be Tom Wingfield’s tribute to Laura, the sister he tries, in vain, to leave behind. Were Williams alive to see the new production by the American Repertory Theater, however, he might have turned to T. S. Eliot’s suggestion, in “Burnt Norton,” that “all time is eternally present.”
Memory floats on a giant plane of regret in American Repertory Theater’s epic and intimate production of “The Glass Menagerie,” trapped forever between a shimmering black sea and an endless void that even an infinite fire escape can’t reach.
Why is the American Repertory Theatre producing a play as familiar and often staged as Tennessee Williams’ “The Glass Menagerie?”
It’s a natural question that’s partly answered by the fact that they’ve cast one of their founding members, the superb actress Cherry Jones, in the role of Amanda Wingfield, the matriarch of the play.
The luminous physical beauty of the production staged by the American Repertory Theater, coupled with carefully crafted performances by its performers, makes this a Glass Menagerie to be cherished.
It’s no secret that Tennessee Williams is one of the most talented playwrights of all time, and “The Glass Menagerie” (1944) is among his best works. But is among his best works. But to take a masterpiece and give it new life takes great innovation and talent — and that’s just what director John Tiffany did this past Wednesday in the American Repertory Theater’s showing at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge.
There is no cabinet filled with small glass animals in John Tiffany’s rethinking of “The Glass Menagerie” at the American Repertory Theater; instead there is one piece – the unicorn that proves so crucial to the plot. That may sound strange; after all, Tennessee Williams’ famous “memory play” is rooted in a theatrical naturalism that requires that the Depression-era St. Louis apartment that Amanda Wingfield shares with her son Tom and daughter Laura to be claustrophobic and very real.