Review: Extraordinary and magical moments in Tennessee Williams play

The Glass Menagerie, Talisman Theatre, Kenilworth. On until Saturday May 24. Box office: 856548.

Amanda (Julie Godfrey), Jim (Martin Donaldson), Tom (Joshua Pink) and Laura (Rachel Partington) in The Glass Menagerie at the Talisman Theatre. Picture by Peter Weston.
Amanda (Julie Godfrey), Jim (Martin Donaldson), Tom (Joshua Pink) and Laura (Rachel Partington) in The Glass Menagerie at the Talisman Theatre. Picture by Peter Weston.

This play, based on playwrite Tennessee William’s own upbringing, is narrated by one of the main characters, Tom Wingfield - played with confidence and style by Joshua Park.

Tom works in a shoe warehouse, but dreams of flying the nest and seeks adventure. His sister Laura - the subject of a wonderfully low key and mesmerizing performance by Rachel Partington - was a childhood victim of pleurosis, which has left her with a damaged leg. Her only escape is in looking after her menagerie of fragile glass animals - in particular the unicorn.

The mother, Amanda, is ably captured by Julie Godfrey as an over-powering woman, always reminiscing and longing for a bygone time. These three create a set so claustrophobic and so painful. All three have impossible hopes and dreams.

Tom drinks too much - as did his deceased father. The mother is too loud and Laura quietly dreams. As Tom’s workmate, Jim O’Connor - lovingly played by Martin Donaldson - comes home for dinner with the Wingfields, events take an even more tragic turn.

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The cast are competent, in sync with each other with some extraordinary almost magical moments of repartee. Their southern drawls, by Act 2, seem second nature.

The direction by John Dawson is tight. The technical crew have once again done their magic and created a set full of shadows twisting and stretching in a hot clinging atmosphere.

There seems to be no escape for any of the characters.

A criticism might be the rather unnerving flashing at intervals, of a photograph of the deceased father, as projected onto the back wall; this seemed distracting and unnecessary.

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But that seems churlish to mention, as overall this worthy production is well worth seeing.

Monica Troughton