Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pugnacious And Rancorous

If proof ever were needed that Broadway is dead, the current Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’s “The Glass Menagerie” would provide all the evidence necessary.

An overproduced play, poorly-cast, poorly-played and poorly-directed, utilizing a thrust-stage design in a proscenium theater, all attracting the most superlative notices: What more could one want?

Williams’s delicate and poetic memory play in the current Broadway staging is pugnacious and rancorous, staged with all the subtlety of The Battle Of Vicksburg. I believe all persons associated with the production suffered under the misapprehension that they were mounting an Arthur Miller family drama: I have never seen so much hatred expressed onstage.

The Amanda Wingfield was Cherry Jones, who does hatred very well. Indeed, hatred is the sole emotion Jones can express with conviction; Jones has based her entire career on expressing hatred, even in roles that require none. If theatergoers ever wanted to see Amanda Wingfield played as Beatrice Hunsdorfer from “The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds”, they now have their chance.

The Laura Wingfield was played as a total loon. Twice she appeared to go into catatonic trances. As Joshua said to me during the performance, “No wonder her mother is having so much trouble marrying her off.” I felt sorry for the young woman asked to play the role in so ridiculous a manner.

The Tom Wingfield was . . . bizarre. I believe the director was going for a “violence-about-to-erupt” quality, but I very well may be wrong, as the actor had so little talent it was difficult to tell.

The Gentleman Caller was vapid, and barely registered, but there was little doubt that he was a human being . . . which could not necessarily be said of the others onstage.

Persons seeing “The Glass Menagerie” for the first time in the current Broadway production would have a warped notion of what the play is all about—they would leave the theater thinking the play’s inspiration had come from an ancient biography of some long-forgotten figure, a battleaxe female army general who was mother to a very weird son and a very weird daughter.

I predict all sorts of awards . . .

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