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The Glass Menagerie review at Nottingham Playhouse – ‘beautiful and powerful’

Amy Trigg and Daniel Donskoy in The Glass Menagerie at Nottingham Playhouse, Amy Trigg and Daniel Donskoy in The Glass Menagerie at Nottingham Playhouse, Photo: Robert Day
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The iron girders of the tenement fire escape on Tim Meacock’s set rise so high on the Playhouse stage that the first entrance of Tom Wingfield (Chris New), is from the fly floor. His descent draws us instantly into the world of the drama Giles Croft has wanted to direct for 40 years and for which he has assembled a stellar cast.

Susannah Harker is Amanda, the genteel, controlling mother disappointed by life and stifling her grown-up children. We wince for them as she whips out a comb to do Tom’s hair or forces tissues down the bra of her protesting daughter, Laura. We wince for her inappropriate behaviour as she dresses to impress the ‘gentleman caller’, twirling in an outlandish satin frock. But Harker gives her a dignity too, a resilience that endears.

Amy Trigg gives an outstanding performance as the shy, reclusive Laura. Sitting bolt upright in her wheelchair, rigid with fear and embarrassment, she visibly thaws when alone and in candlelight with the encouraging Jim (Daniel Donskoy).

Beautiful moments include a cautious, tender wheelchair dance that evolves into a whirl of ecstasy. Her disappointment, when it comes, is terrible to witness.

Tom Wingfield’s cynicism and exasperation emerge in shouting matches with his mother, in bouts of furious typing and in wry observations from the fire escape. All inside is dimly lit, a memory world of sepia, orange and brown. A sudden rainstorm falls like a heavy curtain, a dramatic image that remains burned on the mind.

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Verdict
Tennessee Williams done to perfection – beautiful, powerful and disturbing
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