Fan-ning O’er It: The Glass Menagerie
Posted on 28 February, 2017 by Team Wishberry
Director: Rajit Kapur
Writer: Tennessee Williams
When a theatre veteran like Rajit Kapur decides to direct a 1944, Tennessee Williams story and brings it to stage, you simply don’t miss it. Especially when the cast is the quality of Shernaz Patel, Jim Sarbh and Ira Dubey in major roles. So, I caught it, maybe a little late, but hell, I would’ve been stupid to miss it this time. Rage Theatre Festival at Prithvi brought me the opportunity.
The Glass Menagerie revolves around the life of a middle class family in the 1950s. Amanda, the mother of Laura and Tom, has raised her children single-handedly after her husband ran away. She is a dedicated mother almost bordering on the level of obsession with her children’s lives. Laura is a cripple who dropped out of school and even the secretarial college due to her lack of any kind of confidence brought upon her by her disability. She is shy and doesn’t have any friends. Tom is a poet with gigantic dreams, but is stuck in a boring job at the docks in order to support his family.
Amanda loves to recall her past glory days about how she had so many gentleman callers (men who formally came to meet women) and her lavish lifestyle in her younger days. Most of it stemming out of her regret of marrying a man she loved but who ran away leaving her alone to manage her family. Like every mother, she wants her daughter to be married off to a good guy with a great family. Laura, the daughter, though is scared to meet anyone new or face people. She lives in her own world, roaming around town bunking college and managing the glass animal collection which she possesses.
Tom empathises with Laura and has a love-hate relationship with his mother, owing to her obsession with what he does. He stays out late every night just to be away from the house. He wishes to leave the family and go far away and travel the world.
There is social commentary on the ways of the world in The Glass Menagerie. Though, written in 1944, some of it still relevant. Especially the way we treat the differently abled - either extremely badly or with an overt sense of sympathy or with a fake normalcy which generally goes overboard.
The play is incredibly well-done. The 1950s has been recreated beautifully. Director Rajit Kapur has added a live violin player who plays the violin to increase the intensity of various emotions. The touch of live music is something else, and boy, it really enhanced the experience. The way the play is constructed makes you get into it deeper as it progresses. I just have a qualm about the beginning where the narrator (Jim Sarbh) speaks to the audience. That is the only odd thing, but you forget it sooner than you expect to, and that is a good sign.
The performances are incredible. Shernaz Patel is a veteran who knows how to make the audience feel what her character feels. She communicates it brilliantly with her body language, her delivery. Ira Dubey plays Laura, and she kept her crippled leg in position through the play. All while being the subdued, under-confident self of Laura. Jim Sarbh did everything in the play. He narrated it well. He was euphoric, he was incredibly sad, and also incredibly angry as Tom. Arunoday Singh was on stage for barely a quarter of the play, but he nailed the perfection that James, his character, embodied. James is a confident, young man sure of his plans and his future. And Arunoday Singh was it all.
The way the glass menagerie is lit and the violin will truly take your breath away when it comes to lighting, setup and the way the play is conducted. The overall feel of the play is great, and the setup is simple, yet effective making the visual even better. So does the lighting. Nothing too fancy on that front, yet whatever is done accentuates every movement on stage.
Rajit Kapur’s The Glass Menagerie is a treat, it is a journey into yesteryear and you won’t even know when you booked a seat on the time machine.