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Broken hearts

In a bleak St Louis tenement, the Wingfields are buckling beneath the Depression and their mother’s old-fashioned aspirations. A framework of fire escapes and raised walkways provides convenient perches from which Tom (Leo Bill) can narrate and look on with foreboding as his lame sister is dressed and groomed for the long awaited ‘gentleman caller’.

4 December 2010

2:30 PM

4 December 2010

2:30 PM

In a bleak St Louis tenement, the Wingfields are buckling beneath the Depression and their mother’s old-fashioned aspirations. A framework of fire escapes and raised walkways provides convenient perches from which Tom (Leo Bill) can narrate and look on with foreboding as his lame sister is dressed and groomed for the long awaited ‘gentleman caller’.

In a bleak St Louis tenement, the Wingfields are buckling beneath the Depression and their mother’s old-fashioned aspirations. A framework of fire escapes and raised walkways provides convenient perches from which Tom (Leo Bill) can narrate and look on with foreboding as his lame sister is dressed and groomed for the long awaited ‘gentleman caller’.


Centre-stage in the Young Vic’s production of The Glass Menagerie (until 15 January), a raised dining table dominates. Laid with a white cloth and warped candelabra, altar-like, it comes into its own when Laura – the sacrificial lamb – limps trembling towards it, but otherwise it marginalises the actors, who tend to get lost amid a cluttered set.

Though Deborah Findlay delivers Amanda’s nostalgic reminiscences in a perfect Dixie drawl – each peal of laughter graced with a cute squeal on the inhale – she lapses too often into glum immobility for her children’s downtrodden attitude to ring true. This mars the drama, but the delicate lyricism of the final scene makes up for it. Kyle Soller (as Jim), dispensing self-help sophisms with clumsy urbanity, is the ideal foil for Sinéad Matthews, above, who adds a stutter to Laura’s limp, making her straightforward lines seem all the more honest and heartfelt. She reveals to Jim the reservoir of thwarted tenderness she has channelled into her collection of glass animals. As she allows him to hold the unicorn up to the light, we realise just how little she has been surviving on. ‘Oh, be careful –’ she says, ‘if you breathe, it breaks!’


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