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The Glass Menagerie | Rose Theatre

"My devotion has made me a witch and so I make myself hateful to my children" - A line spoken by the head of the complex Wingfield family, Amanda, portrayed in Atri Banerjee's captivating production by Geraldine Somerville. She is the only parental figure her children have after her husband left many years ago.

Part semi-autobiographical, this is a memory play by Tennessee Williams, a play about family, desperation, ambition, devotion, love and loyalty. The play is narrated by Tom (Amanda's son) and it's his memories that play out before us. Tom is played by the talented Kasper Hilton-Hille, who plays the role with such raw emotion, tenderness and empathy which really shines through, particularly in scenes with his sister, Laura. Natalie Kimmerling (Laura) plays the role beautifully, balancing the shy, fragility of Laura so well, but not being afraid to show her strong willed side when standing up to her mother.

Somerville perfectly captures Amanda, a faded Southern belle who is forever reminiscing of a time past. Somerville's portrayal beautifully transitions between tenderness and overbearing, as she often tries to arrange her daughter's future love life, but with Somerville's portrayal, it is clear that this is only done through love and wanting what's best for her family. Amanda is obsessed with pairing Laura up with a "gentlemen caller" and so convinces Tom to invite one of his co-workers to be a suitor, this is where we are introduced to Jim O'Connor, played by Zacchaeus Kayode. Kayode's characterisation is very charismatic and likeable, and it's in his interactions with Laura where the play excels at portraying emotions and heartfelt, tender moments.

The staging of this stripped back production (Rosanna Vize) is simple but clever, with a round, earth shaped stage circled with an array of glass animals (The Menagerie), symbolising us and our fragility in life. A big neon sign in the centre of the stage declaring 'Paradise' revolves during the performance signalling the utopia in life that the Wingfield's aspire to achieve, however, what evolves is anything but paradise. The lighting (Lee Curran) and the different speeds in which this sign moves in relation to the changing mood of the scenes really enhances the production, bringing a visual element to the themes of the play.

The Glass Menagerie is a very thought provoking piece of theatre which enables audiences to reflect on the fact that we are fragile creatures on the planet that are easily broken, whether that be through own actions or influences, or the circumstances around us. The Glass Menagerie runs at Rose Theatre until 4th May, then moves onto a small tour visiting Bristol Old Vic, Theatre Royal Bath, and concluding at Alexandra Palace. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.


Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Marc Brenner


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