I love going to see musicals and plays, but I shy away from actually reading them in book format. There’s about a 50/50 shot that the play will translate well in script format, and even then the reader likely misses something when not seeing a play live.
I’m not suggesting to skip reading plays. Last year I read The Cursed Child and I found the experience enjoyable, but I understand that the live show is different.
That is my hope when it comes to The Glass Menagerie, that seeing the play is far better than reading it. I had a really hard time getting through the first half of the play, and I wasn’t on board until the fifth or sixth scene.
The play is deeply personal, about the illusions we all live to survive and protect ourselves. The premise is deceitfully simple, as we follow a mother and her two grown children. The only other character, the ‘gentleman caller’, doesn’t show up until the last scene.
The Wingfield family still feels the after effects of the father leaving them sixteen years prior, with a mother stuck in the past, a painful shy daughter who’s only joy is her glass figurines, and a son who supports the family, but wants so bad to leave himself.
I just had a hard time connecting in the first few scenes, mostly with the mother. With every monologue I kept thinking, ‘I wish I could see this.’ Probably because the story hinges on these characters so much, and the connection to them needs to be strong in order for the last scene to have the most impact.
After thinking about The Glass Menagerie for a few days, I think I just need to see a live performance and then re-read the play. I hope that’s not a cop-out. There’s a lot of elements and themes I really liked, but I think seeing the emotions being played out would bring everything together for me.
So for now I’ll give it a 7/10, mainly for the powerful last scene, which I felt Williams’ really stuck the landing with the characters. But we will see if that changes in the future.