By Barry Willis
Main Stage West has rebounded from the confounding “Late, A Cowboy Song” with an exceptional production of the Tennessee Williams classic “The Glass Menagerie.” Expertly directed by Elizabeth Craven, it may be the only production ever done featuring real-life mother-and-daughter as their fictional counterparts.
Williams’ “memory play” takes place in St. Louis, in the late 1930s. A three-member family struggles to survive in the wake of a long-ago departure by an unnamed father and husband, whose portrait and influence loom over everything in the household.
Sheri Lee Miller, Theatre Manager at Spreckels Performing Arts Center, stars as family matriarch Amanda Wingfield, a manipulative and delusional faded Southern belle who smothers her adult children with a seemingly endless recital of recollections and demands. Miller’s daughter Ivy Rose Miller, MSW’s Managing Artistic Director, is understatedly amazing as Amanda’s weepy wallflower daughter Laura. MSW’s Producing Artistic Director Keith Baker turns in a solid performance as Tom Wingfield, Laura’s brother, a would-be poet and adventurer who also serves as the show’s narrator. Newcomer (for this reviewer, at least) Damion Lee Matthews does a more-than-convincing job as Jim, Tom’s associate from the shoe warehouse where they both work.
MSW’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” is among the finest this reviewer has ever seen…
The four-member cast is beautifully balanced. MSW’s compact stage is the perfect venue for the Wingfield family’s shabby St. Louis apartment—set design by David Lear and Elizabeth Craven. Missy Weaver’s moody lighting contributes to the Wingfields’ unhappy ambience, and carefully-curated selections of ‘30s-era music help put the story in its proper historical perspective—sound designer not credited in the playbill.
This “Menagerie” is a stunning example of superb ensemble work that sails along at just the right pace, neither too briskly nor too slowly. Matthews exhibits palpable sensitivity as his Jim gets to know Laura, and Ivy Rose plumbs the depths of Laura’s rudderless existence. Baker confidently anchors the whole production, serving as a morose counterbalance to Sheri Lee Miller’s flamboyant and hysterical Amanda.
MSW’s production of “The Glass Menagerie” is among the finest this reviewer has ever seen—an exquisite piece of theatrical art that should be on every theatergoer’s must-see list.
Aisle Seat Review NorCal Executive Editor Barry Willis is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association and president of the SF Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Production||The Glass Menagerie|
|Written by||Tennessee Williams|
|Directed by||Elizabeth Craven|
|Producing Company||Main Stage West|
|Production Dates||Through March 5th|
|Production Address||Main Stage West
104 N Main St
Sebastopol, CA 95472
|Tickets||$20 – $32|
|Reviewer Score||Max in each category is 5/5|
|Aisle Seat Review PICK!||Yes!|