Despite the alarming bomb threat that shook Chennai city, Rajit Kapur’s production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie was attended by several theatre enthusiasts. The play has been made into movies and stage productions, and has earned the title of a classic for good reason.
A period drama, the story revolves around Amanda and her family. Abandoned by her husband, Amanda (Shernaz Patel) is a devoted mother who comforts herself with recollections of her earlier life when she was pursued by gentleman callers. Her son Tom (Jim Sarbh), a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure to escape from his mother’s incessant fixation on things, while Laura (Ira Dubey), her shy crippled daughter’s fascination lies in the glass menagerie. Like all mothers, Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband, and plans on arranging gentleman callers (a man who visits a young woman) to visit her home. But when the long–awaited gentleman caller does arrive, Laura’s romantic illusions are crushed.
With sparse furniture as the set design, the play opens with an introduction of Tom, who is also the narrator of the play. As the act progresses, you might find yourself laughing even through the wretched situations the characters are placed in. This probably describes the intended genre – that of a dark comedy. A drama that may not have us relate to it in a great measure, but it definitely addresses social issues in a light-hearted manner.
As the proud, vivacious woman, Shernaz Patel as Amanda provides zeal to her character. Her brilliant transition of emotions is noteworthy. She thoroughly convinces you as the radiant and joyful mother who can breakdown at the slightest disappointing news about her children. Perhaps, that marks the true quality of a seasoned actor like she is. Jim Sarbh as Tom delivers a knock-out performance. He shows us how unhappy and dull a man he can be, and also shows us the heavy misery he is going through from the burden of regret. Ira Dubey as the shy, crippled – or should I say a girl with a slight defect which is hardly noticeable, provides both the vulnerability and resilience to her character. Especially during the intimate moment she shares with the gentleman caller. James (Cabir Maira) is endearing as the charming and ambitious gentleman caller.
Another key highlight that brings the play to life is the lively background music: The soul-stirring music by violinist Ursula Periera. A special mention has to be given to the beautiful lighting. The scene which captures the emotions of the actors in the dim candlelight is surreal; aiding to set the tone of the scene.
Showcasing a high amount of emotional truth, towered with brilliant performances, there are almost no negative aspects about the play. A brilliant showcase by director Rajit Kapur makes this play an engaging interpretation of the classic. Do watch it when it comes to your city.