Breaking Up with The Glass Menagerie

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The middle of the current Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie is not the best time to come to terms with that fact that you hate the play. A better time would have been before agreeing to go, or even before arriving at the theater. And yet there I was, glumly watching two sad-sack children drive their ambitious mother up the wall, when it occurred to me that I don’t have to love this one.

And I don’t. Boy howdy, do I not like the Wingfield family.

I do not find Laura touching. (I do find that Laura turns me into Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven, who drowned her crippled brother-in-law for slowing her down.) I do not find Tom’s plight (he’s a dreamer in a shoe factory; isn’t that cruel?) moving. And I do not find Amanda, in her desperate search for a future for either of her disappointing children, monstrous. And if you can’t buy at least one of those three things, your pleasure in any production will be severely compromised.

And in this production, Cherry Jones does something with her voice that makes you want to offer her a glass of water for the first act, and then insist she drink it in the second; Zachary Quinto is a very gay Tom; and Celia Keenan-Bolger has been directed to sometimes forget that she’s crippled. There is one glass animal in the menagerie; a crescent moon emerges from an inky black pool looking like nothing so much as a shark fin, waiting to pounce on the family; and there is interpretive dance because the director of this, John Tiffany, also worked on the musical Once, and what worked before will work again. Right? Right?

Right?

Addison DeWhiskers is a catty sometimes theater critic who usually expects just a little bit more than the talents of those involved can provide.

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