‘The Glass Menagerie’ at Diversionary Leaves an Emotional Impact

Luke Harvey Jacobs, Shana Wride, and Julia Belanova (photos courtesy of Andrea Agosto).

Luke Harvey Jacobs, Shana Wride, and Julia Belanova (photos courtesy of Andrea Agosto).

Tennessee Williams is known for writing several classic plays including A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. One of his most personal shows is his breakout memory play, The Glass Menagerie, which is now receiving a strong “Legacy Revival” from Diversionary Theatre.

Taking place in an apartment in St. Louis, the inhabitants are writer and warehouse worker, Tom Wingfield (Luke Harvey Jacobs), his overbearing mom, Amanda (Shana Wride), and his emotionally fragile sister, Laura (Julia Belanova). While Tom cares for his family, he finds himself being increasingly dissatisfied with his average life and yearns for excitement. His aspirations lead to growing conflicts between himself and his single mother.

A big factor why Williams’ drama remains compelling is because of how honest his story comes across, even if the style is often described as expressionistic. Both qualities are felt early on between Tom’s introductory monologue that breaks the fourth wall mentioning details about the script, before transitioning to an authentic dinner conversation between the trio. Dialogue from the characters feels truthful, which helps the audience empathize with each member of the household, as several discussions become heated.

Director, Lisa Berger, embraces the naturalistic and impressionistic elements of the plot. She gets memorable performances from her ensemble and works with the creative team to create an almost ethereal style for the interpretation.

Theatregoers instantly believe Jacobs, Wride, and Belanova as a flawed family unit. They are each well-suited for the sad and sometimes humorous personalities of their individual roles.

Jacobs and Belanova are empathetic as two loving and very different siblings, and Wride masterfully captures Amanda’s well-intentioned and aggressive personality.

Kirk Brown and Julia Belanova.

Kirk Brown and Julia Belanova.

Although he does not appear until Act Two, Kirk Brown injects energy and life into the evening as Jim O’Connor. Brown’s upbeat demeanor is perfect for his wonderful portrayal of Tom’s friendly co-worker.

Michael Wogulis’ set depicts the lower-middle class Missouri home, and Vida Huang’s lighting, which occasionally incorporates shadows, and audio from Remus Harrington and Eliza Vedar (also the composer of the rendition) contribute to a dreamlike tone, which ties into Tom’s memories.

The only aspect of the tale that might be lost on theatregoers is how subtle some of the subtext of the narrative is handled, including implications about Tom’s sexuality. Because of this, I would recommend reading the program to appreciate the themes on a deeper level.

Through Berger’s direction, The Glass Menagerie continues to be a powerful theatrical experience more than 80 years after its world premiere. It is an emotional tribute to a timeless playwright.

[box] Show times are Thursdays at 7:00 pm, Friday at 8:00 pm, Saturdays at 8:00 pm, and Sunday at 2:00 pm. [/box]

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Diversionary Theatre
4545 Park Boulevard #101 San Diego CA 92116 USA Work Phone: 619.220.0097 Website: Diversionary Theatre website
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Updated 8 months ago. Return to top.

 

2 Comments

  1. Ken Herman on December 26, 2023 at 11:38 pm

    Over the years I have attended numerous productions of this play and know it well, but I was surprised how this cast’s emotionally probing production completely overrode my familiarity. Kudos!

  2. Paul Engel on January 10, 2024 at 9:18 am

    Agree with Mr Herman above! Have seen numerous productions over the years. This one will stick for awhile! 😊✌️

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