The Glass Menagerie

Tennessee Williams loved to write a dramatic Southern belle, and one of his first, Amanda, the matriarch of The Glass Menagerie, remains among his best-known--an oft-vilified character, blamed for the dysfunction of her family after their financial security slips away. In truth, it may be hard to sympathize with Amanda. Parallels between the fall of the Old South and the recent economic recession are loose at best; unless you’ve been lamenting the challenges of life without your servants, you may not relate to Amanda’s particular woes. But her sense that she’s constantly being put upon isn’t entirely imagined. She was abandoned by her alcoholic husband, her daughter is crippled and at risk of lifelong dependence, and her adult son tends to display the maturity of a moody adolescent. For all this, we see that Amanda deeply cares about and wants better lives for her children, and it’s this humanity that Karen Gruber Ryan brings to the role. Ms. Gruber Ryan seems young for the part, but her presence is strong enough that age concerns quickly fade. With the determination necessary for Amanda, she owns the stage and leads Schmeater's cast to a fine production of the classic. BRENT ARONOWITZ

Thursdays-Saturdays, 8 p.m. Starts: Sept. 16. Continues through Oct. 16, 2010

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