I can unequivocally recommend Good Company Players’ “The Glass Menagerie” for a lot of great reasons, but the one that stays with me is Alyssa Gaynor and all of her moments.
You see, Laura Wingfield is a character that doesn’t say much, which makes the playing of her incredibly heavy lifting. This play is full of words. So. Many. Words. Amanda talks and explains and admonishes, and rhapsodizes, and cajoles and administers. . .all at 100 miles an hour and in a flurry. The Gentleman Caller has an abundance of blustering for his comparatively short time on stage. And Tom. . . well, Tom may not talk fast, but he’s the guide through this memory, so his words are always fully loaded.
Which usually leaves Laura off to the side taking every single syllable to heart and trying to protect herself from the stings and nettles of so many words.
It is in those quiet spaces that Gaynor’s presence as Laura stands out. The clearest example is when Amanda is caught up in a memory about her time as a southern belle, a time when jonquils and gentlemen callers were abundant. Amelia Ryan’s Amanda is caught up in her own world, spinning her tale in exacting detail to eradicate the disappointment of her current reality. The words cascade over the audience like a waterfall.
And there’s Gaynor’s Laura, silent, slightly slumped, thoroughly still, and completely focused on her mother. In that moment, Gaynor almost creates an electromagnetic field around herself – an aura. It’s like I could see Laura physically creating the bubble that would keep her mother’s expectations at bay, keeping herself to herself.
This sort of moment happens repeatedly when Gaynor’s quietly focused stillness is put in direct opposition to the nervous crises of the other characters on the stage. We can feel Laura’s pain and struggle even though she doesn’t make a show of it.
And if that weren’t enough, in certain pivotal moments, a smile will break through Laura’s intent suffering. And it’s like when clouds break and the sun comes out for just a moment – bright and brilliant and too short-lived.
Gaynor has made the most of her Second Space debut, and revealed how Laura Wingfield is the most delicate, complex unicorn in the whole Menagerie.
About Just a Moment
The conundrum: I used to review shows. I no longer do unless specifically asked. But from time to time I still like to tell the world a little something about what I saw. My solution: The “Just a Moment” where I will discuss one moment in a show I watch that I found effective (or perhaps ALMOST effective?) and then try to articulate why. Not the whole show, not a review, just something that struck me personally.
They’ll be compiled in this category, if you’d like to see the other Moments. (And yes, the idea struck me while watching Into the Woods.)