The Wingfield family is making the rounds of local stages — last winter at Freeport Factory Stage and later this year at the University of Southern Maine. But the sad, noble folks made famous by Tennessee Williams in his “The Glass Menagerie” are currently paying a visit to the Theater at Monmouth.

It’s a fine production featuring a first-rate cast.

Believed to be largely autobiographical, William’s 1943 play sets the Wingfields, mother, Amanda, and her grown children, Tom and Laura, in Depression-era St. Louis. There, they scrape by on Tom’s meager earnings from a warehouse job and whatever Amanda can get from selling magazine subscriptions. The “crippled” Laura does little except listen to old records and tend to her collection of tiny glass animals.

Each family member longs for something more. “Everlasting regret” hangs heavily in the air of the run-down apartment.

Amanda, played with just the right combination of meddlesome matriarch and concerned parent by Janis Stevens, spends a good deal of her free time boring her kids with repeated tales of her supposedly “gracious” past. She claims to have been pursued by “prominent” young men before succumbing to the charms of their father, a lesser man who ultimately abandoned the family.

Equally important are the scenes where she convincingly connects with her children. These moments are extremely touching and serve to gently contextualize what all the kvetching is about.


Dustin Tucker plays Tom, the aspiring writer trying to find a way out of the “coffin” his life has become. Known for his work in comedies, Tucker here gets a few deserved laughs but conveys also a great deal of dramatic power as his character wrestles with his ambitions and the protectiveness he feels toward his “peculiar” sister.

His scenes with her present poignant glimpses of sibling intimacy and make his final speech about her fate, and his, very moving.

Ambien Mitchell, as Laura, does a good job of maintaining that sense of confusion that seems to both limit and protect her character’s fragile psyche. When her gentleman caller, played by Camden Brown, takes her for a ride on an emotional roller coaster, she’s definitely damaged. But in Mitchell’s enigmatic smile something more is suggested.

Brown is effective as the faded high school hero, another of this play’s characters hoping for “happiness and just a little bit of good fortune,” as Amanda puts it.

This great play continues to resonate because it gets at, with amazing insight, those very deep and difficult feelings that haunt sensitive individuals and families. Williams was a master and it is commendable that director Bill Van Horn, cast and crew have welcomed his Wingfields for a stay in Monmouth.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

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