Reviews are in for The Glass Menagerie at the Duke of York’s Theatre in London starring Hollywood actress Amy Adams.
Jeremy Herrin’s bold new staging of Tennessee Williams’s masterpiece has opened to solid reviews in London, with Amy Adams widely commended for her performance as family matriarch Amanda Wingfield.
Herrin’s production differs from past revivals in that two actors – Paul Hilton (The Inheritance, A Very British Scandal) and Tom Glynn-Carney (The Ferryman, Dunkirk) – share the role of Tom at different stages of his life.
Williams’s semi-autobiographical play explores the fragility and fallibility of memory. Set in 1930s depression era America, the play follows a mother’s attempt to steward the lives of her two adult children in an attempt to secure the future of her reclusive daughter, played by Lizzie Annis. Victor Alli completes the cast as a gentleman caller..
The play’s creative team includes designer Vicki Mortimer, lighting designer Paule Constable, and video designer Ash J Woodward, with casting by Jessica Ronane. Also announced today is costume designer Edward K. Gibbon, composer and sound designer Nick Powell, and design associate Choy-Ping Clarke-Ng.
The Glass Menagerie is booking until 27 August 2022 at the Duke of York’s Theatre.
The Glass Menagerie reviews
"Amy Adams is heartbreaking.. I loved her performance"
"To be blunt, I loved her performance. It’s clear, simple, believable, and quietly heart-breaking in its contained vulnerability."
"What Adams catches in her determined radiance and subtle gestures – dabbing a finger with spittle to try and smooth his hair, as if he were still in short trousers – is the female equivalent of Arthur Miller’s Willy Loman: someone going through the motion of coping but in dire need of some good news."
"Hollywood star pulls off a touching turnaround"
"All praise to Adams .. for taking on a role that has tested many an actress."
"Since Williams steered clear of naturalistic stage directions, Herrin and Vicki Mortimer, the set designer, allow themselves free rein. Laura’s cherished collection of glass animals stands in a sleek case that looks as if it belongs in the foyer of a boutique hotel. Ash J Woodward’s video projections add punctuation: whenever Amanda’s absent husband is mentioned, his image floats into view. Paule Constable’s muted lighting is complemented by the washes of music created by Nick Powell. The details are stylishly assembled but they fail to carry the evening."
"Amy Adams gives an understated performance in Jeremy Herrin’s restrained production"
"It’s all quite self-consciously stylised. Herrin is keen not to turn memory into something beautiful and elegiac, but restrained and uncomfortable instead."
"Tears seem to perpetually be welling in Adams’ eyes, although her Amanda smiles to cover it up. Even when her lines are overbearing, sometimes cruel, she delivers them in a fragile one-note, pitched somewhere between head and chest voice that seems to make her warble."
"There’s a bit of youth left to Adams’ Amanda. She isn’t just faded but faded before her time. It’s all very sad and understated, but it doesn’t always land. Some of the great lines feel like missed opportunities."
"Memories flare and fade"
"Amy Adams is the star name in Jeremy Herrin's ethereal production and she catches the irritating bonhomie of a mother doing too much and feeling too little for her children. "
"She is careful not to draw on her star wattage in the first act, all the better to lend weight to the comedy and pathos of her pathetic pandering to Jim when the caller arrives"
"Adams’ West End debut is muted and unconvincing"
"Jeremy Herrin’s non-naturalistic staging emphasises the radicalism of Williams’s play when it was first staged in 1944 but I’ve always found it mawkish and humble-braggy. "
"Amanda and Laura are fictionalised renderings of his mother and fragile sister."
"Under the guise of cringing apology he lampoons the former and slowly crucifies the latter.
"Though Williams wrote some of 20th century theatre’s finest tragic heroines, there’s an unpleasant undertow of misogyny to many of his texts, and this is one of the worst."
"Though I don’t like this play, I can see Herrin’s production working in a small, studio setting, where the younger actors would shine. But as a West End star vehicle, it barely passes its MOT."
"Amy Adams makes a likeable but underpowered West End debut"
" Amy Adams’s interpretation is sympathetic, free of the trappings of fading Southern-belle kitsch the role often comes with. This is a woman who’s bearing the weight of familial responsibility in Depression-era St Louis with a kind of beleaguered grace, marshalling her hapless adult son and daughter with an unexpected kindness. But although director Jeremy Herrin’s take brings new warmth to the family ties at the heart of this play, he doesn’t capture the wit and strangeness that have won it such a devoted following."
"Amy Adams’s West End debut fails to find its heart"
"Tennessee Williams’s story of yearning, passion and despair never puts us under its spell in Jeremy Herrin’s production"
"Tennessee Williams’s narrator begins by speaking of all the ways a “memory play” conjures its effects: dim lighting, sentimentality, a lack of realism. This production uses those artifices and also boasts central star casting in Amy Adams, yet stops short of putting us under its spell."
"The play is pervaded by a sense of abandonment – first that of the absent father who has walked out on the Wingfield brood and then Tom’s own flight at the end. But we do not feel the emotional weight of the latter’s decision to leave. Nor do we pick up on tenderness between siblings."
"Underpowered Amy Adams Leads a Slow-Burn Rethink of Tennessee Williams’ Classic"
"Director Jeremy Herrin is faithful to multiple elements of Williams’ stage directions — including a screen of accompanying images above the action — but he aims to deliver the play’s essence in unexpected ways."
"Constable’s strongly directional lighting, including everything from industrial size lamps set about the stage to a handheld flashlight, almost totally replaces the expected burnished gold of memory with a more soured sepia. This is demonstrably a past of difficulty and sadness as much as it is of lost, familiar happiness."
"With her trademark charm to the fore, Adams is a good fit for Amanda, the mother struggling to keep up appearances and secure her daughter’s future. She also (mercifully) holds back on the Southern belle cliché, which often leads to overly clotted interpretations."
"But with her voice querulous rather than grounded, Adams appears weightless. She’s nicely responsive to shifts of character, changing moods and the needs of a scene. But, robbed of the camera, she expresses but doesn’t radiate emotion to heat up the stage as Amanda needs to do."
"Amy Adams stars in a sensitive staging of The Glass Menagerie"
"This is a staging that eschews melodrama — but it’s also one that doesn’t break your heart"
"Amy Adams in a Too-Fragile ‘Glass Menagerie’"
"In a rare stage outing for the actor, in London, she plays the central character in Tennessee Williams’s play as more of a fusspot than a harridan"
"This production’s quieter, less urgent approach comes into its own in the second act, but elsewhere, it is too removed from the play’s intensifying sadness."
"What’s lacking is the gathering sense of fury from Amanda at a lifetime of betrayal and disappointment"