Everybody and their brother are rushing to see Rita Moreno in Berkeley Reps new production of The Glass Menagerie. After all, how often do you get a Quadruple Crown performer (
When The Glass Menagerie premiered in
Amanda is a deserted wife of a certain age. Making do in a run-down
Yet, the second act is particularly lovely, due to a long scene between Jim, the caller (a very good Terrence Riordan) and Emily Donahoe (Honour) who does an amazing job as the young woman whose shyness is even more crippling than the slight physical impairment which affects her walk. Laura, who seems to fail at everything she tries to do, lives in the shadow of her overbearing mother, caring only for a collection of miniature glass animals, some old gramophone records her father left behind, and her gentle, poetic brother Tom (Erik Lochtefeld). Tom is the narrator/hero of this self-styled memory play and Lochtefeld does him proud, giving him a bit of a gay edge, making the character even more autobiographical. He longs to escape the stifling clutches of his mother and the tedium of his warehouse job but his sense of obligation and his love for Laura keep him stuck on a treadmill. When he brings a friend home for dinner coincidentally the same boy Laura had a crush on in high school the pot comes to a boil, in more ways than one.
If Amanda is a faded rose, Laura is a bud whose petals are tightly closed. She seems as fragile as the tiny glass figurines that she loves. But as she and Jim, the caller, sit on the floor and talk by candlelight (the electricity has been cut off because the bill wasnt paid), she unfolds into bloom. Donahoe accomplishes a graceful transition from isolated introvert to a normal young woman and, when Jim whirls her around the floor in a waltz, the audience rejoices in her laughter. But the gaiety ends when one of the glass animals is broken and the illusion ends when the reality of Jims situation is revealed. The scene the longest in the play and notable for the absence of the mother is a quiet oasis in the turmoil of this troubled household. It cannot last forever. Jim will leave to live his own life and, even more heartbreaking, so will Tom.