What was it that made T.S. Eliot assert April to be “the cruelest month”? Surely there’s nothing necessarily mean or painful about “breeding lilacs” or “stirring / Dull roots with spring rain.” But “mixing / Memory and desire,” well, that’s a different story, and it’s exactly this fear of what catastrophes may arise when these most capricious of human faculties collide that animates Lit Moon’s brilliant and innovative production of Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie. Director John Blondell’s decision to cast Stan Hoffman, an actor in his seventies, as protagonist Tom Wingfield is only one of the ways in which this production reinvigorates an essential aspect of Williams’s immortal script. In this version, every character’s desire remains trapped by his or her own distorted memories.
As Amanda Wingfield, Victoria Finlayson reveals depths of raw emotion not always tapped by actors assaying this complex and monumental role. The wrenching sight of a distraught mother breaking down in solitary despair after an unsuccessful telephone sales call helps the audience understand how daughter Laura’s fragility could be as much an inheritance from as a reaction to Amanda’s overbearing demeanor. The way Paige Tautz lays everything on the line in expressing Laura’s inner angels and demons won’t soon be forgotten by anyone who witnesses it. Chris Wagstaffe, too, finds something new and thrilling with which to amaze us in the more understated disappointments of Jim O’Connor, the “gentleman caller.” Ultimately, the unqualified success of this beautifully designed and thoughtfully constructed production stems from a deep understanding of what unites, rather than divides, the four characters.