Abandoned by her husband, Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by ‘gentleman callers’. Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother’s suffocating embrace, while Laura, her shy crippled daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband and finally a long-awaited gentleman caller does arrive for Laura.
The Wingfield’s house floats upon a dark pool which shows eerie reflections and glitters from the moonlight and stars, which come into play as the talk turns to the menagerie or dreams. The family is rich in dreams yet this is not a time for dreamers.
John Tiffany’s production captures Williams’ fluidity, alongside Steven Hoggett’s smooth choreography, each character moving slow and steady yet we see the waterfall underneath. Michael Esper’s Tom hovers between the past, present and future; gliding past the people he used to know and love.
Nico Muhly’s score, poised gently over each scene, is hauntingly beautiful. Each scene is encased in it’s own bubble of light from Natasha Katz; Laura and the gentleman caller act enclosed in illumination, darkness creeping in from all sides.
Cherry Jones is subtle, charming and ferocious when needed as Amanda. She wears her anxiety for her children upon her sleeve and frequently recounts her memories of the she was a southern belle. Likewise, Michael Esper’s Tom displaces these traits, forever clashing heads with his mother and attempting to care for his sister, yet never being quite able to put his emotions into words.
Kate O’Flynn’s Laura, her voice dainty and physically forcing herself to be small is likewise wonderful; her gradual growth in confidence is utterly watchable, as is Brian J Smith who gives this gentleman caller an easy, quiet nature, ever so slightly clumsy yet full with good intentions.
Playwright: Tennessee Williams
Director: John Tiffany
Set Design: Bob Crowley
Lighting: Natasha Katz
Sound: Paul Arditti
Music: Nico Muhly
Choreography: Steven Hoggett
Cast: Cherry Jones, Michael Esper, Kate O’Flynn, Brian J Smith
Photo: Johan Persson