A low-key, less-is-more approach to “The Glass Menagerie” helped to make the Lyric at the Plaza production's pared down poetics and performances of its four principals stand out vividly. This version of Tennessee Williams' masterful memory play was set in the Wingfields' St. Louis tenement, with only a wall, partly cutaway, to protect them from the harsh, Depression-era outside world.
Alex John Enterline brought the right restlessness, underlying anger and sense of impending world catastrophe — which he perversely welcomes, to get away from his warehouse job — to the part of Tom Wingfield.
Entering behind the audience, carrying a seaman's bag, so he could “look back” on the action, or look down on it from the top of the fire escape “porch,” Enterline made a nearly perfect author surrogate.
Even more dramatic were Tom's angry, yet somehow still loving exchanges inside the cramped apartment with his mother, desperately trying to cling to him and the bygone, perhaps imagined Southern gentility of her youth.
Helen Hedman filled this role with a fine blend of intensity and restraint, taking the ball and running with it, but also pacing herself well, and demonstrating the survivor's adaptability as well as the rigidity of Amanda Wingfield.
The results were truly memorable, whether Hedman was verbally harassing her children, trying to get women to renew magazines on the phone or reliving her days as the “belle of the ball” by donning a long white dress.
Portraying the third side of this human equation with wonderful understatement was Lindsay Pittman as Laura, the shy, “crippled” daughter, who has retreated into the interior world of her “glass menagerie” of tiny figures.