When I think of Tennessee Williams, I think of “The Glass Menagerie.” This takes me back to a desolate parking lot near my college dorm, past midnight during a freezing New Jersey winter rehearsing the “gentleman caller” scene with my partner in his 1974 Caravan. We are at the part where the gentleman caller kisses Laura, and as he approaches me to make his move, a silent but deadly belch exits his mouth along with the stringent scent of the sausage and onions he had for dinner. This is what I last remember of “The Glass Menagerie.”

Last night’s performance at the Mark Taper Forum, however, was a revelation. What a beautiful, amazingly funny, tremendously witty play Mr. Williams wrote. There is more, a whole lot more, than just the “gentleman caller” scene, and it is brilliant. “The Glass Menagerie” is a memory play told through the eyes of Tom Wingfield (played flamboyantly with great humor by Patch Darragh). He aspires to be a poet while working in a warehouse to support his mother Amanda (an unbelievable performance by the magnificent Judith Ivey) and his sister Laura (played with great delicacy by Keira Keeley), after their father abandons them.

Amanda is full of stories about her youth, especially about all her gentlemen callers, and is frustrated with her daughter Laura because not only is she painfully shy, but she wears a brace on her crippled leg and has no gentlemen callers pursuing her. After a failed attempt at enrolling her in business college, she becomes determined at all costs to find a husband for her daughter.

There are no adequate words to describe Ivey’s magical performance. She transforms herself, and you can tell she loves every minute of being Amanda Wingfield. Every part of this production, from the direction to the set design to the music, is beautifully thought out with great attention to detail.



Mark Taper Forum is located at 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles. For more information, visit centertheatregroup.org.