Review: 'The Glass Menagerie' at Nottingham Playhouse

3.5 STARS

One of Tennessee Williams’ most successful plays, ‘The Glass Menagerie’ is a drama full of subtleties, and the events that unfold are made all the more heart wrenching knowing that autobiographical elements have inspired these events.

The claustrophobic nature of the character's situation was conveyed through the set- a stuffy apartment overshadowed by the imposing black metal fire escape. Unlike Williams’ play ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, where much of the iconic action relies on the use of the stairs, this is not the case in ‘The Glass Menagerie’.

It is easy to empathize with each of the different characters in the play. Tom’s (Chris New) almost adolescent frustration with life under his mother Amanda’s (Susannah Harker) roof is relatable in so many ways, just as Laura’s (Amy Trigg) insecurity and shyness is painfully tangible through her performance. 

The standout scene, for me, comes in the second act. Daniel Donosky’s portrayal of Jim was vibrant and he brought a different energy to the production, and indeed brought some much needed life to the Wingfield’s apartment. There were some incredibly tender moments between him and Laura, laced with some great comedic moments as well. 

For me, the play didn’t quite capture the feeling of the intense heat of the summer that Amanda describes, and when the rainstorm passes and Amanda expresses her relief at the new coolness in the air, I did not feel the atmosphere had changed, or tensions between the characters had cooled at all on stage. Also, I felt some of the dialogue was occasionally lost to shaky American accents. However, this was not detrimental to the overall performance.

This was a strong production, with engaging and thoughtful performances from all of the cast members. With haunting music and telling silences, plus Williams' poetic dialogue 'The Glass Menagerie' is a classic play that audiences can, and will always relate to on many different levels.