In the intimate setting of the Keswick theatre’s Studio, the power of Williams’ autobiographical memory play is somehow enhanced.
Vanessa Johnson in The Glass Menagerie at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick Photo: Keith Pattison
Elizabeth Wright’s sparse thirties setting, incorporating fire-escape and balcony instantly establishes the reduced circumstances of the Wingfield family and particularly those of Amanda, mother of Tom and Laura.
Maggie Tagney presents the confident front of a woman in apparent control of her circumstances whilst crumbling inside - this is a finely tuned portrayal of a faded Southern belle fearing for her future while not being able to release her hold on the past.
Adam O’Brian as Tom, her son and the play’s narrator, convinces us from the start of his bitterness at his lot and the frustration of being compared to his father, the absent fifth character in the play.
As Laura, the child-woman daughter who devotes her life to her collection of glass animals Vanessa Johnson demonstrates a heartbreaking ability to blossom from perceived failure to a fragile beauty when responding to the attention from a gentleman caller who unwittingly changes the family’s lives for ever.
Played with quiet sincerity by James Hogg his scene with Laura in act two when he boosts her self esteem and then crushes her emerging hope is shattering.
These are four of the very finest performances to be seen in the theatre’s 2010 Summer Season and Ian Forrest’s outstanding production allows the players fully to explore these complex characters and does full justice to Williams’ portrayal of a society trapped between two worlds.