The shot of the Belasco Theater could have been taken in 1944, when Williams' first major play made its Broadway debut.
Turns out those emotions were misplaced. The New York Times' Ben Brantley, usually a sympathetic critic, on Friday blasted director Sam Gold's production, starring Sally Field in the lead role of Amanda Wingfield.
"That shattering sound you hear from the Belasco Theater is celebrated director Sam Gold taking a hammer to everything that's delicate in "The Glass Menagerie,"' Brantley says in his opening paragraph.
"The Glass Menagerie" is not a play to take a hammer to. Gold is a brilliant theatrical talent, but he disastrously sought to impose his vision over Williams', according to Brantley.
The playwright in the play gives extensive stage directions about how he wanted the set to appear and the actors to perform. If Brantley is correct, Gold radically changed the play, bringing more negative results than positive.
Gold and his cast "have dismantled a venerable classic, but darned if they can figure out how to put it back together again," Brantley continues.
Kudos to Brantley for eviscerating Gold, who attempted to radically re-envision the play with a minimalistic set and other changes to the traditional performance. The Times Sunday magazine last week published a fawning profile of Gold, making him sound like the reincarnation of Elia Kazan. I always thought Brantley followed the current theatrical trends, but his review shows that he's not swayed by popular tastes.
Directors like Gold can bring fresh re-imaginings of old plays, but they also stumble when they seek to impose their egotistical visions on classic works. The "Glass Menagerie" is a play that's closely tied to the playwright's extensively developed vision. Veering too far from Williams' conception damages the play's essence.