Williams Adaptation Proves to be a Winner

The Glass Menagerie: Pictured left to right- William Vickers, Adam Schroeder, Rowan Vickers, Karen Wood, Alexandra Cockrell and Leigha Sinnott . (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

Rowan Vickers’s production of The Glass Menagerie, Tennessee Williams’s 1944 classic “memory” play, was brilliant for so many reasons.

Put on by Venture Theatre Ensemble as part of the Bermuda Festival of the Performing Arts, it allowed us to enter narrator Tom Wingfield’s reliving of his painful past which he could never escape.

William Vickers portrayed him as an old roué, looking back on himself as a youth of some forty years earlier.

His unchanged appearance when he stepped into the action as a youthful version of himself had an effectively grotesque tinge, especially when scolded by his mother Amanda Wingfield, because he wasn’t chewing his food.

His frustration at his dead-end job and angry longing for “adventure” led to emotional outbursts which not only served to reinforce his entrapment, but also to show that these feelings are not age-confined.

Karen Wood’s deluded Amanda, living in a sort of antebellum southern belle bubble, was absolutely convincing, utterly cringeworthy, ultimately tragic, yet packed with unwitting humour.

Adam Schroder portrayed Jim O’Conor as a fundamentally decent, slightly déclassé prospective suitor.

An inexpressibly moving candlelight encounter with “crippled” Laura Wingfield became all the more poignant when he pulled himself back because of an improbable fiancée.

Laura herself, played by Leigha Sinnott, was on the one hand quirky and courageous, yet in the end overwhelmed and broken.

Our last glimpse of her in a pose exactly the same as Andrew Wyeth’s 1948 masterpiece Christina’s World added a powerful, final emotional resonance to this superb performance.

The decision not to mike any of the actors given their natural projection ability made the whole experience intimate, engaging and immersive throughout the two and a half hours runtime.

Sounds were judiciously and carefully thought out: snatches of weather, street noise and bursts of swing jazz mingled with an apocalyptic series of big bell chimes as the electric power was cut off.

Our own Rowan Vickers has shown us he has all the skills of a director as well as those of an actor.

• The Glass Menagerie ran Tuesday and Wednesday at Ruth Seaton James Centre