Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

Animals sparkle again in classic

Gina Lovell (playing Laura Wingfield), James Silvers (Jim O'Connor) and Rebecca Clee (Amanda Wingfield)  with The Glass Menagerie.

The Glass Menagerie

Dudley Little Theatre


TENNESSEE WILLIAMS has fashioned a drama that offers superb opportunities with its four characters – and has indeed proved to be a major stepping-stone for many actors.

Frank Martino's production finds his company seizing those opportunities as it avails itself of the building blocks that have been provided. The result is an evening – a comparatively short one – that is totally absorbing as it follows Amanda Wingfield's all-consuming marital plans for her shy young daughter.

Vital to those plans are the Gentlemen Callers. We meet only one of them – brought home from work in the warehouse as a symbol of her hopes by her son Tom and here played with pleasing, unassuming affability by James Silvers.

He turns out to be Jim, a high school hero who has not come up to general expectations – though he does not flourish his failure with the aplomb of the man who is briefly in line to become his brother-in-law and who cheerfully describes himself as the bastard son of a bastard.

This is Tom (David Hutchins), known as Shakespeare in the warehouse where he works. He is a generally agreeable character except when he is driven beyond endurance by his sharp-tongued, domineering mother Amanda.


They have an explosively effective argument that is interestingly presented as a shadow show behind a net curtain.

It is not hard to understand why Tom spends so many evenings at the movies if his motormouth mum is the only alternative.

Amanda is Rebecca Clee, a no-nonsense matriarch with no intention of letting her delightful daughter off the hook of matrimony. She is presented, no-holds-barred, as a fearsome prospect – which must assuredly have been likely to knock Gentlemen Callers out of their stride if ever they crossed the threshold.

But Jim appears to be the first – and we are absolutely delighted when Laura's shyness disappears unexpectedly rapidly in the hands of Gina Lovell. This is a lovely, fragile portrayal of a young woman whose only interests are her records and the small glass animals that give the play its name.

And Mum plays a trump card while she awaits Jim's arrival by wearing the white dress that she wore for her own gentlemen callers in years gone by. It proves, however, like her matrimonial ambitions, to be no more durable than the glassware that is grouped on a small table.

A special word for Teresa Lucas, whose work at the piano adds some magical moments to a production of impressive assurance. To 10-03-12,

John Slim 

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