The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams

17-28 April

Faded Southern belle, Amanda Wingfield, shares a dingy St. Louis apartment with her son Tom, in his early twenties, and his slightly older sister, Laura. She worries, especially, about the future of her daughter Laura, a young woman with a limp (an after-effect of a bout of polio) and a tremulous insecurity about the outside world. Tom works in a shoe warehouse doing his best to support the family. He chafes under the banality and boredom of everyday life and spends much of his spare time going to the movies 'or so he says' at all hours of the night.

Obsessed with finding a 'gentleman caller' for Laura, whose crippling shyness has led her to spend much of her time polishing and arranging her collection of little glass animals, Amanda enlists Tom?s help to find a husband for Laura. But will the long-awaited 'gentleman caller' fulfil or shatter the family's delicate dreams'

Chris Eldon Lee reviews "The Glass Menagerie"

There is something very intimate about acting in candle light. Even in a theatre as voluminous as The Wightman, the light cast by a single candelabra closes down the space, focusing the action and the audience?s minds. The actors can be cosy and intimate and say things their characters wouldn't mention in the glare of a spotlight, and can play with their own shadows on the wall. It?s an old trick (even when enhanced by subtle support from the lighting board) and, in The Wightman Company's new production of "The Glass Menagerie", it works wonderfully to bestow upon the scene at the very heart of the play an almost dream like quality for Emily Hurdiss (as Laura Wingfield) and Lucas Smith (as her innocent gentleman caller) to revel in.

Tennessee Williams' autobiographical, memory play was his first big hit in 1944 and the characters draw heavily upon his own family members. They are real people put up on stage, and in Adrian Monahan's production it's the realism that shines through, even though the members of the fractured family are each in their own dysfunctional dream world.

Mother (in a strong and purposefully overbearing performance by Carol Caffrey) is still trying to rule over her two adult children. She just can't stop herself from telling her son how to eat at table or urging her disabled daughter to find a man; busy bodying her way through life on a raft of assumptions.

William Holstead is lithe, lively, loud and unashamedly large-scale as her son Tom (based on Williams himself); with more than enough energy to scoop the audience into his hands to lead us into and out of the play. Much of Tom?s time is spent escaping to the movies. When, at home, he loses his rag in frustration, he loses it good and proper; with enough power and panache to unsettle the diners in Carluccio?s next door.

Shrewsbury's Emily Hurdiss puts in a marvellously controlled performance as his tremblingly shy sister whose world revolves around her collection of crystal animals and melancholy records. When she has to hold centre stage for some time, with no lines to deliver, the subtly of her movement is quite mesmerising. Then the fourth character, Jim O'Conner, strides into their faded apartment as the ?gentleman caller? who has come for supper. Lucas Smith?s assuredly charming and caring performance somersaults the whole play from bickering belligerence to the gentle pursuit of fine ideals. The lights fuse, the candles are lit and he communicates with Laura in a way that no one else ever has. It?s a beautifully executed scene; the best delivery of it I?ve ever witnessed.

The one tiny weakness is that the allegorical glass menagerie itself feels somewhat side-lined. With a little lighting, it too could shine when Laura needs the comfort it affords.

But, make no mistake, this is an excellent, well-directed professional production of a highly captivating play, performed by an exciting cast who surefootedly release the hidden humour of the piece. This should go a long way to sealing The Wightman?s status as Shrewsbury's 'other' theatre.

Select a Date

Date Time Venue Notes Prices Booking Link

Available Performances

Sold out Performances

Concessions*: (OAPs, students and unemployed)

For Schools and Group Bookings please either call 01743 290704 or email
*ID required. All discounts are subject to availability


stars ,,
Click here to read the full review.

Related Pages

How to Hold Your Breath

Podcast with playwright Zinnie Harris and actor Peter Forbes, who plays the Librarian, about How to Hold Your Breath. Hosted by Royal Court Literary Manager, Chris Cam...… Read more