Sunday, March 26, 2006
Went & saw "The Glass Menagerie" — two hours, no intermission, and I didn't notice at all. It was the best play-going experience I have had since last year's "I Am My Own Wife".

What I did notice was the peals of audience laughter during the awkwardly painful encounter between Jim O'Connor and the Wingfields. Amanda Wingfield's deluded self-absorption is ridiculous enough, and the reminiscences between Laura & Jim has enough awkward airs — but it is their desperation & fragile sadness that stuck in the throat. I am not sure how one can laugh here — out of discomfort, perhaps. Or rather I am reminded of Daniel Mendelsohn's perceptive review of the play's recent Broadway revival:
As the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre—the theater where Williams's Streetcar had its New York première in 1948—leapt to its feet for the by now ritual standing ovation at the conclusion of this meaningless production of a play that is, more than almost any other in the Williams canon, about the destruction of beauty and the inevitability of failure, I wondered whether the delicate emotions of such a play are beyond current audiences —whether great drama's demand that we identify with the helpless victims, and with the strident suffering made visible to us on stage, makes us so uncomfortable that it can only be played for laughs. As I got up to leave, a teenaged girl sitting behind me turned to her parents and said, "But I thought this was supposed to be sad." So did I. The only heartbreak in the theater that night was that there was no heartbreak at all.