The Glass Menagerie
Rating: ★★★
Venue: Duke of York's Theatre, London
Cast: Amy Adams, Victor Alli, Lizzie Annis, Paul Hilton and Tom Glynn-Carney

Devastated by her husband’s abandonment, Amanda Wingfield (Amy Adams) obsesses over the futures of her restless son, Tom (Tom Glynn-Carney), and emotionally vulnerable daughter, Laura (Lizzie Annis). Years later, through the fractured prism of memory, Tom (Paul Hilton) reflects on the crushing pressures placed on his sister to secure a suitor (Victor Alli), and the betrayal inflicted by his pursuit of freedom.

Since Amy Adams was announced for The Glass Menagerie last year, London has been hotly anticipating her West End debut. While Amy Adams' performance was exceptional, as were the rest of the casts', I did leave the theatre feeling underwhelmed. It never felt like we fully got the chance to get our teeth into the characters and the story, and you left wanting more than you were given. 

The Glass Menagerie is set in 1930's America and is narrated by the son of Amanda Wingfield, years into the future. While the narrative is from the son's perspective, the focal point is on Laura, his sister. Laura is a disabled woman in her mid twenties, and her mother is desperate for her to find a "gentleman caller", as she so often puts it. Her brother is almost certain this will never happen, whereas her mother is filled with blind hope that she'll find a "gentleman caller" and make a home for herself.

The son, Tom, spends his days in the warehouse and his evenings drinking. Amanda begs Tom to invite a gentleman friend over from work for Laura, and when they meet, sparks fly and an old friendship is rekindled. The suitor, Jim, seems to fit right in with the Wingfield family over dinner. The perfect friend. The perfect son in law. The perfect husband? But is that enough?

Amy Adams plays the role of the smothering, overbearing mother exceptionally. I had seen complaints of her voice projection in this production. However, after being sat in the Royal Circle, I had no issues hearing any of the cast, including Amy. Her almost ditzy, naive take on being a housewife whose husband has just left, is portrayed brilliantly. You're very much under the impression that she believes a man in Laura's life will solve everything. If you've come to see the show to see Amy Adams' outstanding talent, you won't be disappointed.

The role of Laura, played by Lizzie Annis is nothing short of magnificent. And while I went to see the production for Amy Adams, I think the best acting was done by Lizzie. Laura has a physical ailment and Tom regularly calls his sister "a cripple"; which is as uncomfortable to watch, as you'd imagine. I was shocked to learn that The Glass Menagerie is Lizzie's West End debut. Lizzie has cerebral palsy, and as a disabled person myself, it meant so much to see that they cast a disabled actor in the role. It's something that has always angered me in theatre, so I'm pleased that it was done right.

Jim has a certain kind of magnetism and it was hard not to fall for his charm and on-the-surface kindness. Victor Alli plays an incredibly likeable Jim, and you truly understand why Laura falls so quickly for him too.

The juxtaposition between Tom and Laura was very apparent. Tom is almost never home, drinks frequently, is loud and almost boisterous. Whereas Laura rarely leaves the house and has this innocence about her, which is laced with shyness and kindness. It's an interesting dynamic to see the two conversing with one another.

While the cast is superb, the story fell a little flat for me; as there were too many changes from the original plot. There was too much kindness in the characters and not enough grit. However, I will be back for another viewing in the coming months, to see how it fares a second time. 

You can buy tickets to The Glass Menagerie at Duke of York's Theatre until 27th August, here.

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