The past is a constant if not unwelcome intruder in “The Glass Menagerie, ” Tennessee Williams’s first major theatrical hit which debuted here in Chicago the day after Christmas in 1944. Soon after, it transferred to Broadway and with the exception of a dry spell during the 1950s, the play has had a New York revival roughly every ten years. In the 1975 version, the late Nancy Marchand understudied the role of Amanda Wingfield, the overbearing matriarch; a primer perhaps for her more corrosive maternal performance in “The Sopranos.” (The play returns to Broadway next month in a production starring Jessica Lange, and has been notable for a gossipy casting blip involving Tobey Maguire and a reportedly dismal non-audition audition.) Locally, a production by The Hypocrites attempts to recreate many of the original stage directions (calling for specific slide projections) that Williams himself omitted when they proved too impractical. It is a worthy experiment that never quite panned out during opening weekend due to technical problems that managed to clomp over much of the delicacy of the story itself. Living together in their cramped apartment in 1930s St. Louis are Tom, jangled and restless and quite possibly a closeted homosexual, his gimpy, preternaturally shy sister, Laura, and their mother, who is desperate to track down a husband for her rapidly aging old maid of a daughter. The trick is to somehow get beyond the heavy-handed metaphor of the title. Director Sean Graney’s cast does a fairly decent job of it—and yet, tech issues aside, the production remains an inescapably middle-of-the-road effort. (Nina Metz)
This production is now closed.