By Emma Forsyth

The auditorium of the Maj coughed and wheezed away on the opening night of The Glass Menagerie. No one was willing to miss such an iconic production. Their judgement may have been askew, but their taste was not, as Clare Watson’s production of The Glass Menagerie is unmissable. Both mesmerizing and haunting in its beauty, prepare to be taken on a journey with the characters. You’ll not be expecting it, you might not even like it, but you’ll not be able to stop watching it.

Winner of the New York Drama Critic’s Circle award for Best American Play, The Glass Menagerie is the timeless family drama that thrust Tennessee Williams into the international spotlight. It is an astounding self-portrait of Tennessee Williams with a harmonious balance of humour and heartbreak.

Amanda Wingfield only wants the best for her two children, Tom and Laura, putting all her energies into pushing her children up the social and financial ladder from which she has fallen. Shadowed by the absence of a father, they struggle to break free from their mother’s imposing ways.

From the flash of the lights and the insertion of a subtle southern accent, you’ll be transported straight to 1930s America in the throes of the Great Depression. The cast (Mandy McElhinney, Joel Jackson, Acacia Daken, and Jake Fryer-Hornsby) do not appear as a trope of actors but rather a family full of quirks and flaws corroding away together in their mismatched hopes and aspirations. Every personality is played to a tee, you’ll love some, resonate with some, and hands down hate the sight of others, but you’ll empathize with and understand them all.

His Majesty’s Theatre was the perfect backdrop for such a majestic production with the perfect set design of vintage 1930s home décor. A special shout-out must be given to the backstage crew for a hasty yet suave redecorating for act two. Yet the set design’s standout was definitely the electric wall that transformed to illustrate a flashback of memories in the narrator’s distorted mind, doubling up as a comedic device as graphics appear on the screen.

The star of the show is the incredible use of sound effects with nothing but a beautiful grand piano on stage (my hat off to the piano player). The lighting and music are beautifully choreographed to the sequence making everything sync smoothly in time.

So, grab your friends or significant other for your grand night out at the theatre!

Five out of five stars!

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