<em>The Glass Menagerie</em>&nbsp;at Theatre Three

Review: The Glass Menagerie | Theatre Three

Full Glass

Theatre Three has a success with its season-opening revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.

published Monday, August 10, 2015

Photo: Linda Harrison
The Glass Menagerie at Theatre Three

Dallas — Taking on a theatrical icon such as Tennessee WilliamsThe Glass Menagerie is not for the faint of heart. The actors of Theatre Three’s current production proved that they, with only minor flutters, are up to the task.

This play features only four characters, Amanda Wingfield (Connie Coit) and her adult children Tom (Blake Blair) and Laura (Allison Pistorius), and a Gentleman Caller, Jim, who appears only in the final scenes of the play (Sterling Gafford). The three Wingfields create a triad that manages to stunt the development of each of them. Amanda is stuck in her Southern-belle past, unable to fully face the realities of life as an abandoned wife and mother in a cramped St. Louis apartment. Laura is trapped in an interior world of her own shyness and anxiety, while Tom simmers as a shoe factory worker supporting his mother and sister, but longing to write and to see the world.

The volatility of the relationship between Amanda and Tom is counterbalanced by their mutual sense of Laura’s fragility and profound vulnerability in a world ill-suited for her. However, they react to her temperament in different ways: Tom is tender to his sister, but eventually abandons her and their mother, just as their father has done; while Amanda pushes Laura to a career or a marriage, pragmatic choices to be sure, but impossible for the desperately shy Laura.

Photo: Linda Harrison
The Glass Menagerie at Theatre Three

In Theatre Three’s production, Connie Coit embodies Amanda nearly flawlessly—she became this disappointed woman, reliving the glory days of her past with optimism. Coit’s balance between tragedy and comedy leaned more toward the comic in this production, and that’s not necessarily a misstep. The Glass Menagerie is an autobiographical memory play, and just as Tennessee Williams saw his own family in the characters, so, perhaps, can some audience members. Thus, the laughter Amanda provokes is that of wry recognition for the mother pushing her children in directions that they cannot or will not go.

Allison Pistorius is a tall, athletically built actor, so her Laura is inevitably more robust than is usual. Still, her body language builds Laura’s character into the withdrawn, self-conscious woman Williams created.

Although Blake Blair’s Tom seemed a bit stilted at first, he quickly settled into his role, breaking the fourth wall in his initial speech to offer us an insight into this play comprised of Tom’s memories.

The smaller but pivotal role of Jim, the Gentleman Caller, was nicely done by Sterling Gafford. He and Pistorius quickly built the rapport needed for their scene together, in which the crush-burdened Laura is kissed and then immediately devastated by Jim, who reveals that he’s engaged to be married.

Also of note are the exemplary lighting and sound, created by Lisa Miller and Rich Frohlich, respectively, and production design by director Bruce R. Coleman. Although this adaptation does not use the projections called for in some early versions of Williams’ stage directions, the lighting, including various special effects, is just right for Williams’ dimly lit “memory play.” Similarly, the sound, which involves interweaving of music into the dialogue and action, was timed with remarkable precision.

Because of the design of Theatre Three’s in-the-round space, a few liberties had to be taken with Williams’ stage directions—the portrait of Laura and Tom’s absent father, for instance, is an unobtrusive photo on a side table rather than the room-dominating portrait that Williams describes. Still, these minor alterations work well, as do costumes. Although Laura’s burnt orange cardigan and skirt in the first act is a warmer, more cheerful color than audiences might associate with her character, the style is 1940s perfect, as are Amanda’s floral-print dress and the male characters’ baggy pleated trousers. Best, however, is Amanda’s dress in the second act, as she prepares to receive the Gentleman Caller. It is a masterpiece of early-20th-century excess, an ankle-length confection of ecru lace. Amanda’s appearance in The Dress rightly earned one of the biggest laughs of the evening.

It’s rare to see this icon of Modernist American drama performed as well as Theatre Three has done, so go see The Glass Menagerie while you can. Thanks For Reading

Dates, Prices, & Other Details

View the Article Slideshow

Comment on this Article

Share this article on Social Media
Click or Swipe to close
Full Glass
Theatre Three has a success with its season-opening revival of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie.
by J. Robin Coffelt

Share this article on Facebook
Tweet this article
Share this article on Google+
Share this article via email
Click or Swipe to close
views on theater, dance, classical music, opera and comedy performances
news & notes
reports from the local performing arts scene
features & interviews
who and what are moving and shaking in the performing arts scene
season announcements
keep up with the arts groups' upcoming seasons
listen to interviews with people in the local performing arts scene
media reviews
reviews and stories on performing arts-related film, TV, recordings and books
arts organizations
learn more about the local producing and presenting arts groups
performance venues
learn more about the theaters and spaces where the arts happen
keep up with fabulous ticket giveaways and other promotions
connect to local arts crowdfunding campaigns
post or view auditions and performing arts-related classes, services, jobs and more
about us
info on TheaterJones, our staff, what we do and how to contact us
Click or Swipe to close
First Name:
Last Name:
Date of Birth:
ZIP Code:
Your Email Address:
Click or Swipe to close
Join TheaterJones Around the Web

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe to our Youtube Channel

Click or Swipe to close
Search the TheaterJones Archives
Use any or all of the options below to search through all of reviews, interviews, features and special sections. If you are looking for a an event, use the calendar section of this website. This search will not search through the calendar.
Article Title Search:

Description Search:
TheaterJones Contributor:

TheaterJones Section:

Showing on or after:      Showing on or before:  
Click or Swipe to close
We welcome your comments

I am discussing:  

Your Name:
Your Email Adress:

please enter the text below and then click or tap SUBMIT :