The Glass Menagerie, the second self-produced play at Chipping Norton Theatre directed by John Terry, opened to an appreciative audience on 7 March for a run of nine performances and looked like being another huge success.
This play by Tennessee Williams has been set by John in an abandoned 1940s Hollywood film studio reflecting the time when Williams wrote Portrait of a Girl in Glass on which the play is based, an unhappy period in his life working as a reluctant screenwriter for MGM.
John Terry said, ‘As the play is autobiographical, we wanted that sort of film world for the memories to sit in. It’s an evocative world, the golden age of Hollywood, with the hum and heat of the film lights, the canvas directors’ chairs…’
Evocative it certainly is. From the outset the bright lights and stark setting draw the audience in to what will develop into a claustrophobic world. Eamonn O’Dwyer’s piano playing in the background – he composed the music – cleverly reflects the emotions being played out on the stage. He also has a crucial role later in the play centre stage which he acts sensitively.
The small space is dominated by the dreadful Amanda, played expertly by Flaminia Cinque who admits to having a bit of a soft spot for her character: ‘She does mean well. It all comes from a good place.’
This attitude is evident in Flaminia’s interpretation of her role: you can’t hate Amanda as she rants at her children, you might pity her but you can certainly understand her and laugh at her too.
‘Blue Rose’ Laura’s body language, skilfully portrayed by Miranda Keeling, allows us to be witness to the feelings she is unable to express – she clumps about or slumps or just sits until the one time her life lights up for a little while.
Miranda is pitiful as Laura but not in an unrealistic exaggerated way. Tom, Laura’s brother, Matt Connor, opens and closes the play. He is ‘tired of the movies but … about to move’ and this juxtaposition of being torn between family loyalty and missed possible opportunities colours his every move.
The Glass Menagerie has professional actors professionally directed by John Terry. Chipping Norton has once again a ‘must-see’ at its gem of a theatre.
Runs till Saturday 16 March – Tickets £14 (£12 concs) available from The Theatre Box Office 01608 642350 or online via the theatre.
Review by Chippy News reporter Alison Huitt.