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ICT’s “The Glass Menagerie” — The Final Weekend

By Ernest Kearney  —  In 1944 The Glass Menagerie established its young playwright, Tennessee Williams as a major new talent in the world of theatre, and of his 70 plays it remains one of his most highly respected and most often staged.

In this autobiographical work, Williams treats the past of his characters—especially the hope they have laden that past with—like a creature of the undead, hammering a stake through its heart.

It would be a recurring theme in his works that hope never lays in the past and probably not even in the future.

I had expected the International City Theatre to handle the painful tale of Amanda Wingfield—the aging Southern belle who is smothering her children Tom and Laura under her own persistent but perished dreams—with their typical aplomb.

It is, after all, the very sort of work that their craftsman-like, if occasionally by the numbers approach, succeeds with.

Well, not this time.

The failure comes down to the odd coupling of director and scenic designer.

Christopher Scott Murillo has done excellent sets for ICT shows that I quite admired (A Walk in the Woods) and excellent sets of ICT shows that were abysmal (Abigail/1702 – burn this play and feed the flames with the playwright), but I’m hard pressed to recall a set by Murillo that just outright failed the production as thoroughly as the one for this staging of The Glass Menagerie.

The playing areas are divided across at the center stage line with diaphanous white curtains parting them; perhaps with the idea of engaging the “memory play” aspect of the work.

But while one side of the curtains are always being drawn aside, the other half remains rigidly in place, overlaying both the marquee of the Paradise Ballroom and the picture of the paterfamilias, the long absent husband of Amanda and father of Laura and Tom.

Now Williams calls for the father’s picture to fill a prominent position in the Wingfields’ living room, prominent to the point of nearing the status of being the play’s fifth character.

However, to have it on stage in such an overblown size as here, not to mention given to glowing whenever reference is made to the long-gone father, verges on the absurd.

One keeps expecting Vanna White to be positioned in front of it.

(l-r) Ty Mayberry, Emilio Garcia-Sanchez (Photo by Tracey Roman / Courtesy of ICT)

Director John Henry Davis serves as the Burke to Murillo’s Hare in firmly holding the pillow over the face of this production.  In the past, Davis has done serviceable work, as on the aforementioned A Walk in the Woods.  Yes, perhaps by-the-numbers but nevertheless solid stagings.

However, this staging is far from solid.  Think warm Jell-O.  On a hot summer day.  In the Gobi.

Again, it is by-the-numbers. Unfortunately, the numbers are “1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-11/2 -1-1-1.”

Jennifer Parsons as Amanda is a pro of longstanding and seems to have acquired a shortcut to the lifeboats on this theatrical Titanic; the rest of the cast does not fare as well.

Lizzie Zerebko has the right look as Laura, makes the right choice in not playing her impairment as if in the role of Richard III, but otherwise seems to lack any direction.

As Tom, Ty Mayberry appears to be under the impression he’s doing a musical comedy, and should be ashamed of letting his father’s photo be so misused.

As the gentleman caller, Emilio Garcia-Sanchez boldly leaps into the icy waters surrounding this show with a bowling ball clasped in each hand.

Regretfully the epitaph to this show comes down to a single, damning term; lazy.

(NOTE: In featured imaged (l-r) — Lizzie Zerebko and Jennifer Parsons / Photo by Tracey Roman, Courtesy of ICT)

♦     ♦     ♦

ICT Presents

The Glass Menagerie   

On Stage

in the

Beverly O’Neill Theater

at

330 E. Seaside Way,

Long Beach CA 90802

Final Dates

September 8 and 9 Performance Schedule: Sat: 8pm | Sun: 2pm

To Purchase Tickets:

Click HERE

For Additional Information Phone:

Call the Box Office: 562-436-4610 (M-F 9am – 5pm)


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Written by

An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. After a wild and misspent youth, which lasted well into middle age, Kearney has settled down and is focusing on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. Ernest’s stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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