New York and Connecticut theater reviews and news

New York City Theater

"The Glass Menagerie"
Barrymore Theatre

Tennessee Williams' "The Glass Menagerie" is a memory play that deals with a favorite American theme, truth and illusion in a country where superficial emotions substitute for ambiguous intellect. As David Levaux directs this revival, Williams' work is one where real feelings are, along with the characters' hopes, "gone up the spout."

It's a novel approach and one that occasionally works. After all, Amanda, the loving but meddlesome mother doesn't have to drift off to never-never-land as she remembers her gentlemen callers and the jonquils she used to carry. As Jessica Lange plays her, she is soft, sympathetic and sensual, sorely missing the husband who left her when "he fell in love with long distance."

But "Menagerie" is Williams' least erotic, most poetic work. Leveaux and cast turn that concept on its head, leaving us a soapie about a still-hot flower of a mother, a loony sister, bitter son and vague gentleman caller. To make matters worse, Tom Pye's set is clunky, Natasha Katz's lighting is glaring and the performers -- Lange, Christian Slater, Sarah Paulson and Josh Lucas -- act as if they're never been introduced to one another.

This is disappointing work. We're left not with Williams' delicate roses but their harsh thorns.

-- David A. Rosenberg
April 1, 2005

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