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Review: The Glass Menagerie at Nottingham New Theatre

5 STARS

Gifted with superb dialogue from Tennessee Williams, the Nottingham New Theatre’s production of The Glass Menagerie excelled in both its acting and staging. Whilst I have enjoyed plays by other American playwrights before, this was my first Tennessee Williams play and the student production lived up to its playwright’s fame.

The Glass Menagerie does not have a particularly complicated plot, but is instead a character driven piece focussing on the Wingfield family in St. Louis, Missouri – the mother, Amanda (Chloe Bickford) and her adult children Laura (Emily Brady) and Tom (Nick Gill), who is also the narrator, with Jim O’Connor (Will Berrington), ‘the gentleman caller’ arriving in the second act. Much of the play consists of the characters sitting and talking in their house, which led to a slow start, but by half way through the first act the actors had the audience glued to their dialogue. Bickford’s over the top, almost stereotypical Southern belle accent provided some laughs to lighten an otherwise serious play. However, it was in her more vulnerable moments when she showed genuine care for her children which showed her acting chops.

It was Brady who stole the show, as she fully realised the cripplingly shy Laura even in scenes where she barely had any dialogue. Gill also shone, particularly in his final monologue, as the man trying to stop becoming like his father who abandoned the family. Whilst Berrington’s role was the smallest of the four cast members, it was his scene with Brady which captured my attention most during the play.

The behind-the-scenes work on the staging and lighting contributed heavily towards the believability of The Glass Menagerie. The detailed set, including a dining table, fire escape and a painting of the absentee father, turned the stage into 1930s America. During the opening of the play, Tom refers to the performance as ‘a memory play’, which requires dim lighting, and lighting designer Harry Bridge seamlessly transitioned between lighter and darker moments in the play, as well as drawing the audience’s attention to the living room or the fire escape through the changes in lighting. The almost darkness during the blackout in particular made Brady and Berrington’s scene in the living room a highlight, as the staging matched the intensity of the dialogue.

Overall, I would recommend The Glass Menagerie as a well-acted, well-staged production of a deservedly acclaimed playwright. I commend Director Tom Proffitt and Producer Darcey Graham, for a production which would have been welcomed in a professional theatre.

The Glass Menagerie will be on until 21st March, and you can book tickets here.

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Sarah Newman

Nottingham

I am a third year English student at the University of Nottingham. During my second year I spent a semester at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I am also the Web person for Creative Writing Society. In my spare time, I enjoy listening to country music, eating Walkers crisps and spending far too long on YouTube.
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