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Theatre Info for the Richmond region

Sycamore Rouge The Glass Menagerie

By • May 8th, 2013 • Category: Reviews
The Glass Menagerie
Sycamore Rouge: (Info) (Web)
Sycamore Rouge, Petersburg, VA
Through May 19th
2:10 with one intermission
$24/$20 Member, Military, Student, Senior
Reviewed May 5th, 2013

OK, confession time again. My last contact with Tennessee Williams The Glass Menagerie was back in AP English in 19….. a long time ago. Sycamore Rouge’s current production has made this old classic more approachable and relevant with some effective acting, directorial and technical choices. These choices made the usually dark and depressing drama fly by.

Among the innovations; director kb Saine splits the role of younger brother Tom into two roles: an older Tom, who serves as the Narrator, played by Dean Knight and a younger Tom “back then” two decades earlier, portrayed by Deejay Gray.

The two actors bear a strong resemblance to one another which helps this device work. As Tom the Narrator says; the entire play is based on his memory. The narrator lurks in the shadows throughout the entire play, helping the audience visualize the author’s mind’s eye. Knight’s dead pan, almost stiff delivery of the facts without emotion are reminiscent of Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock. In opposition to Narrator Tom, Gray provides all the emotional depth to Tom. Gray displays Tom’s restlessness and longing for adventure as well as his deep seeded rage and anguish from years under his mother’s thumb.

Terry Menefee Gau brings energy, variety and empathy to that overpowering mother, Amanda Wingfield. Gau’s presence is commanding as she both strives for love and attention, yet also tries to critically help her children. Gau brings a touch of Blanche Devereau’s southern charm mixed with Mama, from the old Carol Burnett show’s caustic abrasiveness. Amanda is intelligent and articulate and never at a loss for words, however numerous and biting they may be. However, Gau manages to also bring through Amanda’s softer side, her love behind her correctiveness and her pain and loneliness behind her anger and her tears.

McLean Jesse brings nervous energy and simple childlike innocence to daughter Laura. Laura is crippled both physically and emotionally and, much like her collection of glass figurines (her glass menagerie) is fragile and just one move away from being broken. Jesse carries Laura’s nervousness and emotional fragility well, but at times loses her physical disability. This could be in part because of the smallness of the stage, or it could be a directorial choice to see Laura as her “gentleman caller” Jim sees her; with the physical disability unnoticeable, simply amplified in Laura’s own mind. Jesse’s one other flaw, as my guest for the show, Morgan, pointed out, is that she does at time rely too much on a “sing-songy” style of dialog which could use some more variation.

Matt Bloch rounds out the cast as Jim, the gentleman caller and Tom’s High School friend and current co-worker. He is suave and calm as opposed to Laura’s social awkwardness. His empathy for Laura help guide the audience to feel the same way for her.

The set, the theater and even the city of Petersburg are all perfect for the 1930’s St. Louis apartment; cramped yet full of memories of better days gone by in the Old South. A curio cabinet/window holds a giant screen with changing messages controlled by Narrator Tom stylized like a 1920’s silent movie narration.

The furnishings of Keith Saine’s multi-level step up set of a parlor, dining room and fire escape correctly give off the atmosphere of the play. As Narrator Tom points out, E. Tonry Lathroum’s lights are appropriately dimly lit to give the feeling of shaded memories. There are also nice touches with sunlight and candlelight.

McLean Jesse doubled as Costume Designer and provided fitting wardrobe to the characters and period (although one of young Tom’s shirts irked me as looking like a bowling shirt!)

Director Saine keeps the dialog crisp and flowing and the actors keep the energy high which keeps the audience entranced with this masterful emotional presentation.

Photo Gallery

Dean Knight (left, sitting) as the older Tom and Deejay Gray (right, standing) as the younger Tom Dean Knight as the older Tom, McLean Jesse as Laura, Deejay Gray as (younger) Tom, and Terry Menefee Gau as Amanda
Dean Knight (left, sitting) as the older Tom and Deejay Gray (right, standing) as the younger Tom
Dean Knight as the older Tom, McLean Jesse as Laura, Deejay Gray as (younger) Tom, and Terry Menefee Gau as Amanda
 McLean Jesse as Laura, Deejay Gray as Tom, and Terry Menefee Gau as Amanda
McLean Jesse as Laura, Deejay Gray as Tom, and Terry Menefee Gau as Amanda

Photos by Dave White

The Cast

  • Amanda: Terry Menefee Gau
  • Laura: McLean Jesse
  • Tom (then) Deejay Gray
  • Tom (now) Dean Knight
  • Jim: Matt Bloch

The Crew

  • Director: kb Saine
  • Stage Manager: Kelsey Cordrey
  • Set Designer: Keith Saine
  • Lighting Design: E. Tonry Lathroum
  • Costume Design: McLean Jesse

Disclaimer: Sycamore Rouge provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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is by day a Special Education teacher, teaching History, Science and drama to Middle and High School students in a private Day School in Stafford. He has degrees in Educational Media and Special Education. He is also a part time Radio News Anchor and occasional actor in the Richmond area. Bruce is a native of New Jersey and spent most of his "adult" life in Upstate New York, where he started and ran a national award winning youth theater and cable television program for over 10 years. He has lived in Virginia since 2002, and in Caroline County since 2005, where he is active in many community groups; including serving on the Board of Caroline's Promise.

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