The Glass Menagerie put Tennessee Williams on the map, and he has needed no introduction ever since. The play is obviously brilliant; the performance was equally so. The concept is simple enough. Three main characters - the overbearing mother Amanda (played by Kim Furlow), the shy, delicate and socially awkward Laura (played by Macia Noorman), and Tom (played by Antonio Rodriquiz), the stressed out brother who's trying to keep things together. Tom Lehmann (as Jim O'Conner) makes his entrance towards the middle of the second act as the gentleman caller to the household, but from this simple situation arise significant emotions of hope and despair, stagnantion and progress, love and sacrifice, and just living life with the cards one is dealt.
The play begins with Tom's narration. It was a splendid job because I must admit I was mesmerized immediately. Antonio has a great grasp of Tom's character. I felt I understood Tom. Antonio made me understand all the decisions Tom had to make in his life based on love, humanity, respect and sacrifice.
Macia turned in an exceptional performance also. My heart reached out towards Laura and I could understand the insecurities and struggles she was going through with her overbearing, controlling, and self centered mother. The most amazing thing about Macia's performance is the magical effect she had on me as the audience. When Laura hurt, I could feel it. Laura became real. She wasn't fictional to me anymore, and I cared for her. That was powerful.
Amanda's character was a great contrast to that of Laura's. Kim acted with confidence. I had no doubt as to who Amanda was and thanks to Kim, I did not like her character. She was the character that annoyed, angered and irritated you. I wished I could dismiss her as a fictional character, but Kim portrays her so well that I felt Amanda was real also.
Last but not the least is Tom Lehman (as Jim O'Conner). I thought he did a really good job, but compared to the other three, I felt occasional disconnects with his performance. Please don't mistake my review as criticism. Tom had some amazing moments on stage especially with Macia, but in a production that was so tight with all other actors being spot on, there was no room for anything short of perfection and that's a lot to ask from any actor.
Masterful direction was provided by Bill Whitaker. There was a definitive elevation in the quality of this production when compared to several of the others that I've reviewed in the past few months.
I liked the set, and I especially liked the text and images projected in the background. The words on that screen helped in foreshadowing. In this show, however, I came back with a great appreciation for lighting. Max Parrilla impressed me in the scene where the lights went out, representing a power loss, and I loved how the lights dimly came on and illuminated parts of the set in conjunction with a candle being lit, one at a time. That was my favorite lighting effect for this play.
My favorite scene was the last one. It felt like an explosion, like the grand finale of a fireworks show. I don't particularly feel great about reviewing this play because despite its brilliance, I could never do it justice here. This play is meant to be felt, and not read about in some review. Go watch it and decide for yourself. I'll be surprised if you weren't as blown away by it as I was.
The Glass Menagerie continues at Dramatic License Productions through March 18th.