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Posts Tagged ‘Victor Alli’

Tennesse Williams’ memory play is often revived (this is the 5th major London production I’ve seen in 27 years) though it’s far from his best. It was his first success though, aged 33, eight years into a playwriting career that spanned some 48 years. Within 3 years, he’d produced one of his classics, A Streetcar Named Desire, and went on to deliver a lot more, as one of 20th Century’s greatest playwrights. This one also attracts actresses to the role of Amanda; I’ve seen Zoe Wanamaker, Jessica Lange, Deborah Findlay, Cherry Jones and now Amy Adams.

The Wingfield’s have been down on their luck since Amanda’s husband abandoned her 16 years before, when her two children were very young. It’s down to Tom, the youngest, to bring in what money they have to live on from his warehouse job. Amanda takes him for granted, obsessed with marrying off daughter Laura, though they don’t get as many ‘gentlemen callers’ as she claims to have had in her day, until Tom brings home colleague Jim, who he’d also been at school with (as well as Laura, it later transpires). Things seem to be going well until Jim makes his excuses (which may or may not be true) and leaves. As it’s a memory play, it’s narrated, by an older Tom.

It struck me this time that it wasn’t that much more substantial than some of his many one-act shorts, but what it lacks in depth it makes up for in atmosphere. There an other-worldliness and a lightness to Jeremy Herrin’s production, which seemed a good fit with the play, and Amy Adams plays Amanda with a similar lightness of touch, more girly and less Southern belle. They find more humour that I recall. It all takes place on a platform with just a cabinet of ‘the glass menagerie’ and a table, but it’s surrounded by lights, musical instruments and props which aren’t part of the set as such, but seem important in creating the atmosphere and mood. I wasn’t keen on this at first, but it grew on me.

Lizzie Annis became indisposed at the interval but her understudy Brydie Service played Laura in the second half, including her pivotal scene alone with Jim, so well it was seamless. I really liked Tom Glynn-Carney’s characterisation of Tom – suffocated by his mother, frustrated, unfulfilled, desperate to escape. Autobiographical, I’d say. Paul Hilton presided over it like an expert magician, fully in control of how the memories were recalled. Victor Alli’s Jim charmed everyone, a very assured and confident performance. It was good to see Amy Adams make Amanda her own, a fresh take on a well-known character.

If it takes a film star to fill a theatre for a classic like this, so be it, but it is the whole ensemble, and the originality of the staging which makes it well worth catching this revival.

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