Reflections Abound In The A.R.T.’s “The Glass Menagerie”

Emily White ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Editor

Zachary Quinto as Tom, Cherry Jones as Amanda, and Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura Wingfield. Photo by Michael J. Lutch.
Zachary Quinto as Tom, Cherry Jones as Amanda, and Celia Keenan-Bolger as Laura Wingfield. Photo by Michael J. Lutch.

The American Repertory Theater’s  production of Tennessee Williams’ classic play The Glass Menagerie, is a beautiful interpretation of a memory once lost but recaptured for a moment. Zachary Quinto is a brilliant, conflicted, and utterly trapped Tom, who looks back on his past with bittersweet longing, which is represented by a beautifully unified production.

Bob Crowley’s set blurs the line between reality and fantasy. It seems all too real at first glance, but surrealistic details appear throughout the show as the audience takes a closer look into the apartment itself and into the lives of those living in it with every scene. Cherry Jones turns the bleak set into a plantation palace every time she brings her large Southern sensibility to the stage as Tom’s mother, Amanda. She is all at once flawless and entirely flawed, living in a strange sort of limbo between her past, her desires, and her desperate reality. She sticks out like a sore thumb in the understated world of this production.

Celia Keenan-Bolger brings tears to the audiences eyes with her portrayal of Laura, the extremely introverted and physically challenged sister of Tom, whose insecurities have so much control over her she cannot leave the house. She communicates so much with barely a word, her mere movements are a poetic representation of her internally tortured character. Director John Tiffany gives Keenan-Bolger ample time to explore this physicality in multiple soundless solo scenes Laura has onstage. Her performance was truly inspiring.

Quinto wows just as much onstage as he does in his film and television roles. He strikes a perfect balance between performing his role and sharing his memory with the characters in it, which weaves together a tapestry of what one might imagine one’s memories to feel like. There is always the question of what is real and what is his own interpretation throughout the play, which is a difficult and engaging question to attempt to answer while watching. This is exemplified by the decision to have only one glass object to represent the entire glass menagerie, which further signifies the importance of that one object, and Laura’s intensely desolate life.

The A.R.T.’s The Glass Menagerie is all at once sumptuous and stark, and leaves the audience feeling reflective and emotionally full. It plays through March 17 at the Loeb Drama Center in Cambridge, MA.

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