The Playgoer: A Menagerie of Two

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

A Menagerie of Two

Theatermania documents Joe Dowling's revisionist Glass Menagerie featuring 2 Tom's--old and young, actor and "narrator".

Sound familiar? Well perhaps--just perhaps--Dowling knows that early play by his countryman Brian Friel, Philadelphia, Here I Come!, with its similarly split protagonist... Oh wait, looks like he directed it!

No matter, interesting idea nonetheless. But clearly not what Williams wanted, which was to make the character continually break the fourth wall and dip in and out of his own memories.

Dowling is right that most productions forget all about the "memory" aspect by casting a conventionally young leading man as Tom. (Even, hilariously, jocky football player types!) I personally have always wanted to see an older Tom, someone more clearly resembling the 30-ish Williams himself at the time of writing the play. Here's a case where the autobiographical elements enrich an already fine play even further. Plus an older, more worn actor could make his presence in the flashback/"memory" scenes more haunting and even creepy (a la Willy Loman) than the nostalgia-fest lazy productions usually end up being.

Next up: when are we going to see an Edmund in Long Day's Journey who actually resembles the quirky, neurotic, and deathly ill O'Neill himself?


Anonymous said...

Williams would have been outraged.

Mark said...

Oddly, the original Tom was 49 years old, which is out of the age range in the opposite direction. (He was also the producer, which explains why the role was cast that way.)

Art said...

Though I am in the minority, I always liked the opening of the Paul Newman directed film version.

John Malkovich, age appropriate and looking like the perfect, jaded Tom, walks through the dusty rubble of the tenement complex where the story unfolds.

Art said...

Regarding Edmund:

I saw Michael Stuhlbarg, (Currently in the Voysey Inheritance,) as Edmund at the ART back a number of years ago.

He was pretty close.

At this Link you can see him there on the left: