It’s remarkable to think that, for a play set mostly in 1937, The Glass Menagerie’s themes of loneliness and unfulfilled potential still feel so profoundly relevant today.
Amanda, played by Evangeline Edwards, is the matriarch of the household, whose personality dominates the words and wishes of her children Tom and Laura. Edwards plays the role beautifully, using a repetition of gesture and inflection of voice at key moments throughout the play to both note Amanda’s worries for her children, and her melancholy for her past life as a ‘Southern Belle’. The character’s vulnerability comes through especially well during one scene in which she chats to Jim (Tom Whiston), who can’t get a word in as she speaks. Whilst funny to watch, Edwards’ rapid delivery of the script does add a layer of insecurity to the incessant chatter, emphasising Amanda’s barely-concealed worries over her daughter Laura in front of Jim.
The simple staging of a couch, gramophone and dining room table make it easy to picture the family’s humble lifestyle. The stage lighting at key points dims and focuses on certain characters – a very effective method of heightening emotion, particularly in the scene where Jim confesses his engagement.
The melodic piano refrains are particularly effective at drawing out moments of vulnerability, such as Laura’s inner turmoil upon meeting Jim, where the music grows louder and peaks at the height of Laura’s anxiety. One other example of the show’s effective staging is the television screens lining the rear walls, which in nostalgic moments show old home videos of people from the family’s past, which also double for visual projections of each family member’s respective fantasies.
The performers and set blend seamlessly, allowing the audience to be immersed in a time long past. In a particularly touching scene, Jim and Elise Coward’s Laura sit together lit by an imposing candelabra, which adds a fragile intimacy to their dialogue.
Overall, Bedlam’s production of The Glass Menagerie uses creative staging, and fiery, emotional performances to deliver an engaging, and thought provoking reimagining of Williams’s classic play.
The Glass Menagerie
Runs 13th-17th March
Image: Andrew Perry