‘Everything seems to happen to music’: The Glass Menagerie @ the Duke of York’s Theatre

Tennessee Williams is brilliant, i’ve never seen a production of The Glass Menagerie, and I was wandering about on a free Saturday afternoon when it started to rain. What was I supposed to do but pop into the theatre for day ticket to the matinee?

First, let me say I enjoyed it. There’s a reason it’s a classic, and if not mucked-about with too much, it’s always going to be good. And this was quite a good production, with John Tiffany’s direction making me excited to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child..sometime in the very distant future. The Menagerie cast worked well together. Their main achievement was drawing me into the story – I commend them for making me forget everything except what was on stage. My favourite performance was Kate O’Flynn as Laura, though it’s Cherry Jones  who has been nominated for the Olivier. The stage design, with a long fire escape snaking up into the darkness and a crescent moon glowing in the corner, was fittingly haunting.

What one might criticise about this production, owing to its slightly too polished, repetitive acting and American feel, is that it is a bit, to use a potentially meaningless term, West End-y. In the interval, I overheard a woman saying disparagingly to her friend, ‘It’s like watching a sitcom‘. I wouldn’t go quite that far, but I can see where she was coming from. However, I believe it’s conceit to think that this play would somehow be more meaningful if staged at, say, the National, or a blackbox theatre above a pub.

What you’re supposed to take away from this is – it’s The Glass Menagerie. If you haven’t seen this play or can’t really recall the last production you saw, get yourself a day ticket and go see it already, if only to remind yourself of the skill with which this American classic captures nostalgia and regret.

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The Glass Menagerie is playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre until 29 April 2017. For more information and tickets, click here

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