From her first echoing demand, Cherry Jones personifies Tennessee Williams’ quintessential Southern matriarch, Amanda Wingfield – reminding the audience that this is where the the trope began.
Strong stage design amplifies the play throughout, with the simple living room set, surrounded by darkness, adding to the trapped atmosphere. Amanda and her crippled daughter are stuck there, dependent on son Tom – whose only wish is to escape from Amanda’s invasive, controlling ways. The fire escape, stretching up from the set out into darkness, is the only sign of the outside world as it cleverly domineers over the characters throughout, taunting them with the near impossibility of getting away.
The second act, focusing on the Gentleman Caller and Laura’s interaction, is particularly moving; Kate O’Flynn truly elevates her character in this moment, giving a heartbreaking performance that never sways into the contrived.
John Tiffany’s minimalistic adaptation of one of theatre’s favourite of Williams’ plays keeps the audience enthralled throughout, hanging onto every word from a truly talented cast as they show us true family, for better and for worse.
Words: Chiara Margiotta
The Glass Menagerie, King’s Theatre, 5-21 August, times vary