THE GLASS MENAGERIE * Written by Tennessee Williams * Directed by David Leveaux * Starring Jessica Lange and Christian Slater * Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City.

The Glass Menagerie is the play that put Tennessee Williams on the map in 1945. It ranks right up there with Death of a Salesman and Long Day’s Journey into Night in the pantheon of classic American dramas that crystallize the love and sadness, dreams and desperation that haunt family life. Nakedly autobiographical, the play is narrated by Tom Wingfield (Christian Slater), a would-be writer chafing in a dead-end job and itching to fly the coop like his father did, leaving his crippled and depressed older sister Laura (Sarah Paulson) in the care of their frustrated, overbearing mother, Amanda (Jessica Lange). 

In the tepid Broadway revival awkwardly staged by David Leveaux, none of the actors is especially well cast, though Lange pulls off the second act’s climactic scene. Having wheedled Tom into bringing home from the factory a friend (the handsome but bland Josh Lucas) as a potential date for Laura, Amanda turns the arrival of The Gentlemen Caller into a referendum on her own attractiveness. Quivering with nervous vanity and unconscious destructiveness, Lange intriguingly conjures parallels between Amanda Wingfield and Williams’ most famous beautiful dreamer, Blanche DuBois.

The Advocate, May 10, 2005