06 February 2009

KC Rep: The Glass Menagerie

poster from The KC Rep's production of The Glass Menagerie featuring a unique interpretation of the story

I read this play. Once. A long time ago. In high school. But I don't remember it being quite so moving as what I experienced at the KC Repertory Theater’s production at the Copaken Stage downtown. The characters were so intense and the story so bleak. Only a few actors on stage and the emotional dynamics were palpable. I got teary at Laura standing at the phonograph and wailing in her one moment of noise. Tom running off to the movies every night is so pathetic; you don't blame him but you don't fully support him either. And their mother who pushes and pushes and pushes them away, even as she grasps for them so desperately. They all three seem to trap each other.

The production (very positively reviewed in the Wall Street Journal) had several key elements to savor: namely the videography. At some moments there were images (blue roses) and words (“I don’t suppose you remember at all, do you?”) projected onto the upturned ceiling and outturned wall of the set’s living room. At other times it was live close up footage of the actor at that very moment, staring into the mirror on the set or off to the side, staring right into the camera, their face writ large above where they stood. This externalized and made hard to ignore the emotional struggle inside the hearts and minds of those particular characters.

I particularly loved the image of the tiny glass figurine aglow in the bright candle light, filmed by a camera we couldn't see and projected onto the ceiling - the small glass unicorn shining bigger than anything in that sad little apartment. Shining so brightly you even think maybe it won't break this time.

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