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August 02, 1979 - Image 9

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1979-08-02

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A dusty 'Glass

By JOSHUA PECK
Tennessee Williams regards The
Glass Menagerie as his finest work.
Many literary and theatre critics
agree. The members of the Black Sheep
Repertory Company, I am sorry to
report, do not. Their recently closed
production of the play was dusty, dry,
and deliberately ponderous. It
ruminates over its script from a distan-
ce, evidently lacking the guts to tackle
it head-on, wrestle with it, and (to
exhaust the metaphor), bring it down
to earth. When Amanda (Roberta
Owen) launches into a speech about her
runaway husband, or her charm as a
maiden, or the ways of the Old South, it
is fine for her to target the audience
with her vaguely neuoritic ramblings,
but somebody seems to have forgotten
that her words also serve to motivate
her children in their ensuing actions
and monologues. Amanda's words only
occasionally seem to be going over the
audience's heads, but constantly quite
literally to be going over her children's.
Williams quasi-autobiograhical
drama is a tale of some two weeks in
the Winfield family. Amanda, a
Southern-born gentlewoman of what
she holds to have been great charm
and popularity, lives in a slightly seefy
apartment with her grown children
Laura and Tom. Her husband has long
since abandoned the happy homestead,
but his picture still holds a place of
honor on the wall. The role of bread-
winner has fallen to Tom, some four
years out of high school and a menial
laborer ina warehouse. His life, he tells
us in lonesome monologues out on the
apartment's terrace, has come to be
monotonous and dreary. He feels a mix-
ture of pity and resentment for his
family, the former because his mother
and sister are both such terribly frail
creatures, the latter because their
frailty keeps him bound to his home,
away from the adventurous life he
vigorously imagines.
LAURA, A slightly crippled and ex-
ceedingly shy girl of some 20 years,
provides the problem about which
much of the plot revolves. She lives a
virtually agoraphobic existence, scar-
cely ever leaving her home or its
limited comforts-her collection of
glass animals and the family Victrola.
Her mother becomes compulsively set
on opening up the girl's horizons, and
resultantly, Amanda hopes, her oppor-
tunities,
Amanda first tries to launch her
daughter in a business career, but
Laura shrinks in humiliation from the
unbearably trying experience. Finding
Laura a beau is Amanda's next project
of questionable good will, a pursuit in
which she enlists the aid of her son. The
netting and offering of a suitable "Gen-
tleman Caller" brings Menagerie, in
met productions, to its climax. In the
Black Sheep effort, the scene between
Laura (Bethany Carpenter) and her
caller (Michael Woods) is among the
most problematic of the production's
many trouble spots.
Roberta Owen stretches for a sen-
sitive and consistent interpretation of
her formidable role, and finds such an
interpretation not entirely out of reach.
Consistency, though, does present an
obstacle to her making a wholly
adequate Amanda. At times, she looks
to be borrowing ideas from Katharine

Hepburn's television portrayal (under-
standably-it was magnificent), but
she cannot make Hepburn's charac-
terization decisions look like her own.
When she plays scenes in a fashion
more nearly unique, they clash with
those in the Hepburn-esque style. Early
in the play, Amanda comes into the
apartment, having just found out that
Laura has been playing hooky from
business school all the while that
Amanda believed her to be attending.
She resorts to an icy, chillingly
restrained fury that on its own would
stand as one of the play's strongest
moments. But it does not jibe with other
instants of Amanda's anger or
irritation, when we see her conveying
her mood by insinuation and gently ar-
ch suggestion. It's really a shame that
Owen falls into wrestling with these two
different approaches to the role; she

exhibitsE
saved the
her throu
THIS N
Black S
coaxes co
audience,
When he
playwrigh
ten, he
monologu
distressi
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lines oug
product A
are still
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Andersonj
Curious
stage rela
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is one sc
Laura out

The Michigan Daily-Thursday, August 2, 1979-Page 9
Menagerie'
enough skill at both to have the women are at their shining finest.
show, had either stayed with Carpenter in particular lets us in on her
ghout. secret joys, and her admiration for her
MENAGERIE'S other Owen, brother, all the while clinging to the in-
heep mainstay Anderson, troversion that hangs over her every
)nsiderable interest out of his wish. It's quite strange that Anderson
for all the wrong reasons. should be able to draw the most convin-
is on his own, which the cing utterances out of his co-stars
ht insists must occur quite of- without ever achieving their heights of
handles his protracted persuasiveness, but then, the stage has
les, for the most part, in a always been a peculiar place.
ngly torpid and sluggish Rounding out the evening is an
The wandering quality of his abomination of a performance as Jim,
ht not lead to the muddled the Gentleman Caller, by Michael
nderson comes up with; there Woods. Woods simply doesn't under-
central motivations and stand the crucial conflict in Jim's life:
each begging to be released. the frustration of having fallen from
repeatedly denies them. being Big Man on Campus in high
ly enough, both of Anderson's school to being just another warehouse
tives find him a perfect soun- slave. The director might have stepped
d for their best scenes. There in here, as elsewhere, with a little word
ene each with Amanda and to the woeful.
on the terrace, and in both,

AIRPORT 7~9
A JENNINGS LANG PRODUCTION
ALAIN DELON SUSAN BLAKELY ROBERT WAGNER SYLVIA KRISTEL EDDIE ALBERT BIBI ANDERSSON CHARD SYBIL DANNING
JOHN DAVIDSON - MONICA LEWIS ANDREA MARCOVICCI MERCEDES McCAMBRIDGE MARTHA RAYE AVERY SCHREIBER CICELY TYSON
JIMMIE WALKER DAVID WARNER :- GEORGE KENNEDY IO"THE CONCORDE -AIRPORT =~
H JENNINGS LANG ALO SCHIERIN JENNINGS LANG DAILD0G [ RICH ! T yc G oPETSGGESTE
I' *o * .. S TRTSB iTFCIDAYN
N S SIRIA
-SHOWS DAILY AT-
12:00-2:20-4:40-7:05-9:35

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