The Glass Menagerie is a "memory play," in which Tom (a stand-in for Williams himself) is a character in the play and also narrates from some time in the future. The play is therefore cast in nostalgia, wistfulness, and regret. The aforementioned fading Southern belle is Amanda Wingfield, one of Williams' best characters. She lives with her two adult children in a small apartment in St. Louis in the late 1930s. Tom dutifully supports the family by working at a shoe factory, where he feels stifled and bored with life. Laura has a slight physical impairment that has caused her to become reclusive, wanting nothing more than to stay in the apartment, listen to records on the Victrola, and arrange her glass figurines, her menagerie. Amanda is constantly nagging her children - telling Tom how to chew his food and how to sit at the table, cajoling Laura into leaving the house to attend business school or entertain a "gentleman caller." Because she's unhappy with the way her life turned out (her charming grinning husband left her with two children to raise), she talks constantly of her glorious past and happy youth. She wants Laura to be as popular as she was, but Laura is nothing like her, and the time and place in which they live is nothing like the one in which she came of age. When a gentleman caller finally arrives, "the long-delayed but always expected something that we live for," there is hope for a moment. But the experiment fails miserably, Tom leaves the family to find his fortune in the world, and Laura is left with her glass menagerie. Part of the tragedy is that Amanda really does want her children to be happy and successful, as she wishes on the moon, but she has no idea how to help them achieve that in this modern, Northern, and utterly foreign world.
|Tom (Ty Hudson) and Laura (Samantha Haeli)|
The Glass Menagerie continues through September 21, with discount tickets available on Goldstar.