Hill, Senior Editor
Brandon Miller stars as Tom
Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie at the Dallas Theater Center.
Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical play The Glass
Menagerie delves into raw emotional territory, exposing a
dysfunctional family on the verge of shredding the few threads
that bind them together. The Dallas Theater Center’s current
production is a solid, if not perfect, rendition of Williams’
DTC associate director Claudia Zelevansky has artfully staged
the production in a one-room set at the Kalita Humphrey’s
Theater, making use of the closed-in feel of the Wingfield
family’s cramped apartment in a squalid area of St. Louis
during the Depression era. By flashing scene titles above the
set’s dining room door opening, and showing off-stage moments
directly through the on-stage screen door, scenic designer
Takeshi Kata makes use of every inch of stage space without
ever changing the set.
Pushing much of the action far upstage, Zelevansky makes the
characters less intimate for some scenes; then, she takes them
outside the screen door where they become observers. The
result is a keen focus on the story’s method of retrospection,
specifically on the characters as vehicles of memory — just
where the focus should be.
Opening scene narrator Tom Wingfield (Brandon Miller) paces
upstage as he becomes storyteller to the audience.
Methodically lighting and smoking cigarettes as he talks,
Miller sets the stage for what is to come. Walking back and
forth, philosophizing, Miller flicks away cigarettes as if
they represent wasted moments of the life he wants to escape.
Since his father ran out on the family years before, Tom has
been the sole provider for his domineering mother, Amanda
(Beth Dixon) and his disabled and chronically shy sister,
Laura (Jeanine Serralles). A poet stuck in a soul-crushing day
job, Tom works in a warehouse.
When Tom sits down to dinner with his sister and mother at the
end of his workday, nothing about the shared meal is bound to
go right. Although sometimes a bit exaggerated in scenes of
anger, Miller brings much to the quieter moments of his role
and often hits the mark as he intricately conveys Tom’s more
complicated vacillations. His is a world haunted by the
adventure he knows he’s missing. To his credit, Miller is also
able to wring out the subtle moments of ironic, bemused humor
that only Tom sees in his day-to-day strife.
As faded, iron-willed former Southern belle, Amanda Wingfield,
Beth Dixon commands the scenes she’s in, providing a marvelous
foil for both the action around her and William’s complex
dialogue. Amanda is a pushy, out-of date genteel Southerner
who cares more about appearances than she does about the
feelings of her loved ones. But Dixon carefully keeps Amanda
from slipping into one-note villainy. If the audience is able
to like her a bit more by the play’s end, it’s because she is
able to convey how she cares for her children with a
tough-love brand of logic.
Jeanine Seralles the mousy sister, Laura, and Ashley Smith, as
Gentleman Caller Jim O’Connor, turn in fine performances in
the play’s most achingly tender scenes of unrequited love and
At the end, Tom addresses the audience, up close, lamenting
the empty adventures he’s had. He is haunted by guilt for the
family he abandoned.
We are haunted by the poignant memories this production