Monday, June 24

The Glass Menagerie – Rose Theatre

Directed by Atri Banerjee and designed by Rosanna Vize, this stylized performance of Tennessee Williams’ iconic family drama both juices up and strips down the physical environs of a timeless story, but its enduring appeal is undulled by theatrical innovation. A restaging both faithful to its formidable script and imbued with a magic of its own, this production is truly enchanting.

Geraldine Somerville scintillates as the reluctant matriarch Amanda Wingfield whose erstwhile husband “fell in love with long distances” and hasn’t appeared in more than a decade save in his grinning portrait on the family’s mantle. This production’s rendering of the Wingfield family home places this mantle on the invisible fourth wall which is neither broken nor ever explicitly mended in this staging but rather occasionally sheepishly penetrated by narrator Tom Wingfield (Kasper Hilton-Hille), a factory worker, poet, adventurer, son, and brother not entirely comfortable in these or any other role. Hilton-Hille is both heart breaking and annoying, his dialogue sensitively conveyed and his physicality sometimes painfully awkward combining in a terrific portrayal of tortuous adolescence. The decision to tie his character so explicitly to the non-traditional set and lighting design is not entirely inappropriate but complicates his presence onstage with mixed results.

Photo – Marc Benner

Much like the mother at the story’s heart, vacillating between pretentious self-indulgence and stunning brilliance, this stylized staging is unevenly handed and occasionally in its earnestness elicits self-consciousness in the audience that draws performer and participant away from each other. Hilton-Hille functions frequently as an instrument of this type of artistic intervention and as much as his haunting presence around the margins of the story adds a great depth of anxiety and pathos to many of its most wrenching scenes the burden of physical labour of maintaining the set, light bearing, and other tasks placed on his shoulders, although metaphorically compelling, is to varying degrees exhausting for everyone involved and presents yet another barrier to loving.

This is a beautiful cast with each performer consummate and convincing on their own but especially captivating in their chemistry with each other. The push and pull in Anthony Missen’s exciting movement direction and the sensitivity and strength of Tommy Ross-Williams’ intimacy direction both enhance the audience’s understanding of these terrifically written, ever so fraught characters’ relationships with each other in their stymied attempts to love each other despite everything. Natalie Kimmerling as Laura Wingfield and Zacchaeus Kayode as Jim O’Connor bring to fruition this synthesis of creative talents in the beautiful rendering of their characters’ connection both in their mastery of Williams’ stirring dialogue but most innovatively and powerfully in their physical connection and expression. Banerjee, Missen, and Ross-Williams have here accomplished something extraordinarily theatrical and unmissable.

Playing until 4th May, tickets can be found HERE.

The show then tours to,

Bristol Old Vic – 7th – 11th May

Theatre Royal Bath – 13th – 18th May

Alexandra Palace – 22nd May – 1st June

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 18th April 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.