WORTH A LOOK?: ****
WHERE: Duke Of York’s Theatre
WHEN: 28/1 runs to 29/4
We’re sat in the dark at the end of the third row in the second half of this Broadway transfer and suddenly become aware that audience members around us are crying.
- Read on for reasons including how breathtakingly effortless Cherry Jones makes her West End debut appear
The Glass Menagerie is the 1944 play that catapulted its author Tennessee Williams to fame and, thought to be largely autobiographical, it tells of an aspiring poet who lives with his domineering mother and his mentally fragile sister, yet longs to leave.
Set in the apartment they share, faded Southern belle Amanda Wingfield is played by Cherry Jones, who is making her West End debut here. Her character is obsessed with attracting a ‘gentleman caller’ to the house to visit her daughter and she inhabits the role with such breathless effortlessness it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing her.
We last saw Michael Esper in Lazarus and here he is used to much better effect as the narrator we may, or may not, do well to trust. He dreams of escaping his home permanently and does so intermittently to ‘the movies’, returning home drunk and later than expected.
We suspect the reason for the audience’s tears was the marvellously still performance of Kate O’Flynn as the sister who does receive a gentleman caller in act two, school crush Brian J. Smith. O’Flynn is unrecognisable from her role in Channel 4’s entertaining No Offence while Smith (Sense 8) is playing to type.
The awkwardness with which their relationship appears to develop and its conclusion is symbolised by the titular glass menagerie which has such hold over the sister.
Director John Tiffany’s (Once, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child) work fully justifies the multiple Tonys it was nominated for in 2014, winning only for Lighting.
He encourages vivid performances from each of the four characters we see in this loving revival of a memory play which make it difficult to forget.