Glass Menagerie Review – Amy Adams’ West End Debut Fails to Find Its Heart Theatre

TonEnnessee Williams’ narrator begins by talking about how “Memory Game” conjures up its effects: dim lighting, sentimentality, lack of realism. This production uses those tricks and also has a core star cast of Amy Adams, but doesn’t let us fall under its spell.

Adams’ West End debut was solid but unremarkable. She plays Amanda Wingfield, a moody matriarch desperate to find a husband for her disabled daughter Laura (Lizzie Annes) and clinging to her son Tom (Tom Greene). – Carney), Tom (Tom Green-Carney) working in a shoe store makes his feet itchy — and a desire to be away from the suffocating family of St. Louis.

Inexplicably cheerful and healthy, Amanda was initially unrecognizable as the faded Southern beauty from Mississippi, who boasted of once attracting 17 suitors in a single day.

Under Jeremy Herring’s tutelage, the first half felt caught off guard, without the exhilarating desire, passion and desperation of Williams. As narrator, Paul Hilton plays old Tom looking back, an active force even as he wanders the stage doing nothing. In general, the actors deliver their lines effectively enough, but the emotional center isn’t there. Laura, played by Annis, seems to be a fringe figure, while Tom, played by Glynn-Carney, is fiery but always walks off stage in anger.

The show is imbued with a sense of abandonment – first the absent father who left the Winfields, and then Tom’s own escape. But we didn’t feel the emotional weight of the latter’s decision to leave. Nor will we accept tenderness between siblings. There is better synergy in mother-daughter relationships as Amanda warns Laura of her limited options for unmarried women and urges her to seek post-marital recourse.

One of the biggest issues was the size of the stage, which seemed huge, against the intimacy of the story, and felt unfair. Vicki Mortimer’s set has no hallucinations, with everything from the sound system to the spotlights exposed. That fits with the show’s hyper-drama, but leaves the stage too naked.The Glass Menagerie itself is located in A museum-sized glass showcase that looks more like one of Damien Hirst’s sleek pharmacy cabinets than the collection of small glass animals in Williams’ text.

Lizzie Annes and Victor Ali at the Glass Menagerie.
Gentleman Visitors…Lizzie Annis (Laura) and Victor Ali (Jim) at the Glass Menagerie. Photo: John Persson

Huge rear projection doesn’t work either (video design by Ash J Woodward). They provide visual accompaniment—a soft-focus typewriter appears in a scene from a typing class at Laura Business School; the crescent image is magnified when a ray of the moon is mentioned, and Amanda absconds when the script talks about a photo of him smiling ‘s husband’s face appeared – but the sign was corny and too literal.

Interestingly, in Williams’ original script, Amanda spoke nostalgically about the servants and plantation men of the Deep South who were quarantined in her youth, all but one such reference was deleted. . The presence of “Gentleman Caller” Jim O’Connor brought more emotional input into the second half. He is played by Victor Alli.

The play ends up in intimacy when Jim casts a spell on Laura, and Laura’s own character comes to life. A power outage leads to a candlelight romance (beautiful light design by Paule Constable), and we feel Laura’s dismay as the dream of living beyond these four walls with Jim fades. But for a drama with such a big, beating heart, that’s not deep enough in a production that seems so woefully inadequate.