Review: B'way's 'The Glass Menagerie' thrilling

Published on NewsOK Modified: September 26, 2013 at 6:59 pm •  Published: September 26, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — The way Laura makes her entrance in the new Broadway production of "The Glass Menagerie" is jaw-droppingly brilliant. She emerges from out of the middle of a sofa, as if being born anew. It's a tip that a thrilling night at the theater awaits.

There's magic from start to finish at the Booth Theatre, where the new production of Tennessee William's great play about regret opened Thursday starring a superb Cherry Jones and a revelatory Zachary Quinto. It's evocative, sometimes surreal and sublimely organic — the perfect package for a play about faded and frayed memories.

Like Laura's dreamlike entrance, the visual tricks include a business card pulled out of Laura's ear by the Gentleman Caller and the waving of a handkerchief over a slumbering Tom as if to help him disappear. Even the glass on the stage is an illusion: it's actually water.

"Yes, I have tricks in my pocket, I have things up my sleeve," the narrator Tom explains at the beginning, his words perfectly fitting for this beautiful, dreamy staging by the American Repertory Theater. The tricks remind you about the unreliability of memory and the games the mind can play.

Director John Tiffany, scenic designer Bob Crowley, lighting designer Natasha Katz and choreographer Steven Hoggett — who all made the musical "Once" so special — have done it again, blurring text and music and movement into a fresh and flowing, intimate staging. There is nothing excess here, no look-at-me pieces to distract.

Jones, already known as a force of theatrical nature, eagerly grasps Amanda Wingfield in all her complexity. Her faded Southern belle is smothering and needy, but also rightfully worried and loving, even if it's all wrapped up in her narcissism. She's no mere tyrant, as other productions are want to make of her.

Quinto as Tom is special — sarcastic and restless, yes, but also frustrated and sweet. (He makes a terrific drunk, too.) The "Star Trek" star mocks his mother with eye rolls and bitterness at times, but he also melts into her during less angry moments. His performance has so many colors, so much feeling, that it's breathtaking. Mother and son are utterly believable as adults who equally frustrate and comfort.