Review by Peter McGarry

Peter McGarry is an experienced, independent professional theatre critic who has agreed to review Talisman Theatre productions.
Peter is free to express his opinions for good or ill. The Talisman Theatre has no control whatsoever over the content of these reviews and will not comment publicly on what he writes.

The Glass Menagerie (2014):
It's always a bold undertaking to tackle the works of Tennessee Williams, a writer who was ever in a world - and a class - of his own.

This one is even more challenging because it was not only his breakthrough play but a piece packed with autobiographical insight of emotional torment within a family.

The Talisman meets it head-on in John Dawson's production which lays bare the twists and turns of fractured relationships. There is no denying the strength and commitment of the company even if their endeavour is occasionally a little frayed around the edges.

This is certainly not the case with Rachel Partington's subtle and touching portrayal of the limping, insecure daughter Laura, whose very quietness in the early scenes speaks a thousand words about her fear and vulnerability.

Confronted at last by a representative of the outside world which she has shunned, she slowly unravels her hang-ups in a candlelight conversation with her gentleman caller. This is carefully and tastefully played, with the girl's ingenuous awakening contrasting with Martin Donaldson's effective evocation of a one-time social flyer seeking to recapture his lost eminence.

This sequence is the key to the play and gives us Williams at his most passionate and eloquent. Earlier he veers towards overload with the literary-minded son Tom's discontentment and faded Southern belle mum Amanda's obsession with gilt-edged memories.

Joshua Pink deftly captures Tom's burning frustration within the family circle but is less comfortable with the nuances required for the role of narrator. Julie Godfrey's Amanda is powerfully convincing but her ultra-loud delivery would benefit from more vocal restraint to achieve a wider level of tonal variation.

Above all, however, the grey intensity and underlying bitterness of Williams's work are very well achieved, despite an irritating tendency to project images of the long-absent father whenever he is mentioned. A blown-up, permanently-placed photo would be far more effective, as originally intended.




2016 Talisman Theatre