Princeton Summer Theater production is true to its roots
BY STUART DUNCAN
"The Glass Menagerie" was Tennessee Williams' first major stage success. Written in 1944, first as a TV script and only later adapted for Broadway, it was described by the author as "a memory play." Certainly it contains autobiographical facts and feelings.
In fact in the program for the latest revival at Princeton's Murray Theater as the second offering of the season of the Princeton Summer Theater, director Lileana Blain-Cruz points out that the playwright was "in search of a new theater to take the place of the exhausted theater of realistic conventions."
And thus, this delightful staging deliberately avoids photographic realism in the hunt for a closer approach to the truth, thereby allowing imagination full sway. And in the hands of director Blain Cruz and a superb cast of four, it succeeds wonderfully.It is a young company – two recent graduates, a senior-to-be and the fourth from the acting program at NYU. But all fine actors.
Sara-Ashley Bischoll who plays Amanda, the Wingfield family matron and general nag, finds just the right reliance on her remembered past, coupled with a sharp-tongued approach to the future. Patrick Harvey as our narrator, Tom Wingfield, is clearly the playwright's spokesman and ever the observer, even as he avoids getting too close to the flame.
Laura Hankin is a sensitive Laura, agonizingly shy, beset by her personal demons, breathtakingly served by "the gentleman caller." If one is very old indeed, one remembers that Williams' TV script was titled "The Gentleman Caller." And Tyler Crosby plays Jim O'Connor, that very gentleman in a scene that will break your heart.
This is a dramatic deviation from "Urinetown," which opened the summer season, and shows just how versatile this company has become. The third show is another fork in the road. "No Time For Comedy" opens July 23rd.
"The Glass Menagerie'' plays at The Murray Theater on the campus of Princeton University from July 16-19 at 8 p.m. on Thursday through Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit princetonsummertheater.org or call (609) 258-7062.