Duke Ellington School of the Arts The Glass MenagerieBy Cappies • Apr 24th, 2007 • Category: Cappies
Tom runs out – as the lights dim, he narrates for the last time, trapped in his guilty memories of his sister Laura, who he left behind. Duke Ellington‘s production of The Glass Menagerie was powerful and moving, evoking the haunting themes of the impossibility of escape and the trap of memory.
Written by Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie is an semi-autobiographical play about his mother and sister. Set in St. Louis in 1937, the action is drawn from the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield. His mother Amanda Wingfield, who continually reminisces about her childhood days, believes that her timid daughter Laura must either acquire a skill or get married. When she finds out that Laura has dropped out of business college, she is determined to find her a gentleman caller, and urges Tom to bring home a nice boy from work. Doing so proves disastrous, as the man Tom brings home is Laura’s high school fantasy, and is engaged to be married. As her mother despairs, Laura retreats further into her world of glass animals and Tom leaves, but cannot seem to escape from his memories of those he left behind.
Duke Ellington’s production was anchored by the amazing talent of the actors. Each member of the cast conveyed the complex and heady emotions of the script, making the production riveting and emotionally gripping. The intimacy of the Wingfield family was genuine, as love battled against the ever-present tension.
Amanda Fernandez, as Amanda Wingfield, was superb. Her portrayal of a protective and loving mother who was stuck in the past never wavered, and her momentum in each scene carried the play. Tom Wingfield, played by Devin White, grasped the audience in his reflective and sorrowful narration, and balanced the comic and dramatic elements of the script in his arguments with his mother. Ellenor Riley-Condit, as Laura, was also consistent, bringing to life a unique girl hidden by her shyness and her low self-confidence. Jim O’Connor (Sam Lahne), though a bit brash, was refreshing and energetic, pulling Laura out of her shell.
The set was intricate and creative, providing different levels to which the actors could escape. Lighting was well-designed, and used well when highlighting Tom as narrator. Props were effective, and though set changes were sometimes drawn out, they were always well-placed.
With a despairing story to tell, the cast of Duke Ellington pulled off an emotionally gripping tale that embodied the themes of no escape and the haunting nature of memory.
by Caitlin Nettleton of Washington International.
This review was written by a Cappies high school critic. The Cappies were founded in 1999, for the purpose of celebrating high school theater arts and providing a learning opportunity for theater and journalism students. You can learn more at cappies.com.
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