The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams called this a “memory play” and director Joe Hill-Gibbins’ expressionistic production highlights the non-naturalistic aspects of the playwright’s highly autobiographical 1944 dramatisation of his early adult life.

Tom Wingfield (Williams’ alter ego) also acts as narrator and master of ceremonies, conjuring the plush red curtain to rise and reveal the strained domesticity of the St. Louis tenement home where he is trapped with Laura, his emotionally and physically frail sister, and their mother Amanda, a faded Southern Belle who still dreams of suitors from long ago.

Stiflingly overprotective, Amanda is desperate to find a husband for the painfully shy Laura. An uncomfortable combination of the practical (she brought up her children singlehandedly after her husband walked out years ago) and the self-deluding (with her endless talk of the non-existent “gentlemen callers” who might turn up to woo her daughter) she finally persuades Leo Bill’s frustrated poet Tom to invite Jim from the warehouse (excellent Kyle Soller) to dine.

Deborah Findlay’s overbearing Amanda struggles at first with her accent, but captures the comic absurdity of a woman denying the passing of the years, whose attempts to do the best for her children do more harm than good. And Sinéad Matthews is heartbreakingly touching as the fragile, limping Laura – too nervous to work, and happiest in the company of her collection of glass animals until Jim (with his determined optimism and easy, open charm) seems, briefly, to offer an unexpected chance of real happiness in a play full of thwarted dreams and unfulfilled ambition.


Young Vic, The Cut, SE1 8LZ
Tube: Southwark / Waterloo
0207 922 2922
Until 15th January
£10.00 – £27.50

– Louise Kingsley