Purchase photos

'Glass Menagerie' portrays complex relationships

5/5/2013

Dark, dreamlike tones illuminated a path for introspection as four Fort Hays University actors led their audience through themes of regret, loss and hostility during Friday night's performance of "The Glass Menagerie."

The Tennessee Williams play, an American classic, holds as much relevance today as when it was written during World War II. From the faltering Laura Wingfield (Samie Pfeifer) to the overbearing matriarch Amanda Wingfield (Lydia Fuqua), the characters reveal the complexity of familial relationships, and the traps that run through the commonplace.

Played with brooding angst by Timothy Tarkelly, Tom Wingfield feels trapped as the family breadwinner in a mundane job while he dabbles in poetry and fantasies of joining the merchant marines. Tarkelly was convincing in his fits of irritation, a character with whom anyone in the audience who has been over-mothered certainly could relate. As he chronicled his story, presumably sometime in the distant future, the story played out for the audience.

Gramophone music and typewritten titles on an overhead screen provided seamless transition between scenes. Moments of ironic humor dotted the drama, in particular during act one, when Tom, berated unceasingly by Amanda for everything from how he chews to how he drinks his coffee, pointed out "how lucky dead people are."

Fuqua's portrayal of Amanda showed a powerhouse of emotions: one moment pitiable, the next almost lovable. Her relentless mothering was reminiscent of Vicki Lawrence in the 1980s sitcom "Mama's Family."

As Laura, a character as fragile as the glass figurines she treasures, Pfeifer showed a flair for painful inhibition. She nearly came alive when Jim O'Connor (Colin Miller) arrived for dinner, and with his approachable boyishness reached out for her.

Each of the four roles were played with sensitivity and legitimacy. The spotlighted exchanges between characters brought focus to the tension between their interactions.

There's one more opportunity to view "The Glass Menagerie" at 2:30 today at FHSU's Felten-Start Theatre inside Malloy Hall. Tickets are $7 for students, $10 for seniors and $15 for the general public.

Dawne Leiker is a reporter for The Hays Daily News.