note: entire contents copyright 1999 by Beverly Creasey
A Review by Beverly Creasey
Every so often I get to a small, out of the way community theater like The Hovey Players in Waltham and more often than not the visit is rewarded with a lovely performance. (The past year Hovey produced a blistering "Glengarry Glen Ross" and a radiant "Rainmaker". In case you've forgotten what an elegant play "The Glass menagerie" is, Hovey is presenting a thoughtful, poignant production of this Tennessee Williams beauty this March.
No pyrotechnics. No hysteria. Just pure, poetic Tennessee Williams. Where those big Broadway divas have tended to act the life out of Amanda Wingfield, making her a monster of a controlling mother, director Russel R. Greene restores the humanity of this genteel, albeit dysfunctional family ... giving us a loving glimpse into Williams' own childhood. His sister, like Laura here, was disabled --- although her infirmity was mental illness --- and in his many interviews Williams likened himself to the brother in the play who tries to protect his fragile sister.
Judi Ann Mavon gives a sweet, gentle performance as this young woman, more at home with glass animals than people. Isabel Davis makes Amanda well-intentioned --- not an easy task given her incessant "gentleman caller" reveries. She may be overbearing, but we know she loves her children. Most Amandas are played for venom so it's a pleasant surprise to see Davis' interpretation.
Mark Sickler is the most genuine, and realistic, Tom I've seen in a long while. Sickler truly captures the desperation of a son who wishes he could save his sister but knows in his heart he has to save himself first. Rick Gifford plays the gentleman caller with oodles of charm, but real warmth too. We can even forgive his impetuous kiss .... and both Gifford and Mavon make you believe Laura will survive the loss of his affection.
There's an underlying dignity and earnestness to this production which makes this "Glass Menagerie" linger in the mind. John MacKenzie's set glows warm with "faded" gentility, especially the lace curtains and exquisitely appointed wallpaper. And his evocative lighting, particularly for Laura and the glass figures, sets just the right tone for Williams' resonant memory play.