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THE GLASS MENAGERIE presented by Human Race Theatre Company through Feb. 21. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Sunday matinee performance.
The Human Race returns for the new year with a gorgeously-staged, ethereal production of a Tennessee Williams’ classic.
The cast boasts a strong ensemble of four. Scott Hunt is engaging as Tom, the bitter and put-upon son who works a warehouse job to support his mother and sister. Tom also narrates this memory play. As family matriarch Amanda, Jennifer Joplin embodies a fading southern bell who spends equal amounts of time recounting the glories of her youth and scheming to find security for her uncertain future. Claire Kennedy gives a subtle, but layered performance as Laura, who seems every bit as fragile as her glass collection. Drew Vidal is bigger than life and full of energy as Jim, Laura’s would-be suitor in act two. Their scenes together had great chemistry and I enjoyed watching Laura struggle against her introverted nature under Jim’s charms.
Director Greg Hellems displays a smart and restrained hand in the staging and creates many beautiful stage pictures. The characterizations are real and easily believable.
The atmosphere for the show is beautifully handled by set designer Eric Barker, lighting designer John Rensel, composer/sound designer Jay Brunner and the costume designs of Ayn Kaetchen Wood. The small apartment, dressed in faded glory, floats above the floor. The un-faced front of the set is filled with everyday items. The upstage wall is dressed as if it were a giant window, with heavy blue drapes and yellowing sheer curtains. The hint of a staircase audience right was a great element.
The attention to detail was impressive across the show. I thought all the costumes for the dinner scene with Jim were perfection. I also enjoyed how the display table for Laura’s glass figurines lit up. There was this magical little moment where Amanda’s upstage exit was timed perfectly with Tom’s entrance from behind the upstage wall, stage left.
A few minor complaints. The pacing did seem to drag at times in the first act when the other actors matched Amanda’s gentile cadence. It was also unclear to me what the pattern in the floor represented. If they were meant to be cracks, I would have expected them to be more narrow and angular.
An impressive production. If you have never attended a show at The Loft, THE GLASS MENAGERIE is definitely worth the drive to Dayton.
My rating: 4.5 out of 5.
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