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Theater aces Williams classic

`Glass Menagerie' filled with admirable performances

Director Allison Davis and the cast of the Albuquerque Little Theater have gave their best to Tennessee Williams' classic play, "The Glass Menagerie."

From vocal inflections to carriage to timing, the performers mastered every detail of their parts.

Set during the great depression, "The Glass Menagerie" provides a glimpse into the dysfunctional existence of the Wingfield family.

The Wingfields have long since been abandoned by their father and husband. Amanda, the domineering family matriarch played by Debra Buckner Kierst, attempts to keep up appearances in spite of the unhappiness of her children, Tom, played by Vernon Poitras, and Laura, played by Joy Armstrong.

Tom's dreams of writing and adventure are squelched by his role as the family bread winner, and Laura resides in a fantasy world populated by glass animals. Amanda is as unhappy as her children - she lives the glory days of her youth, endlessly chattering on about the many "gentlemen callers" she entertained as a young woman. The family's interpersonal struggles come to a head when Amanda orders Tom to find a suitor for his sister.

Poitras' performance was riveting. He consistently radiated Tom's youthful frustration and pent-up spirit throughout the play. Poitras' delivery was beautiful and the audience hung on his every line. The only thing that prevents Poitras from being utterly convincing as Tom is his age. In spite of make-up and a masterful sullen slouch, Poitras still comes across as physically too old to be going through a rebellious post-adolescent phase.

Kierst does an admirable job in the crucial role of Amanda, but her performance is slightly over-stylized and studied. Her high-pitched, southern accent and over-choreographed arm movements interfere with the mood of several scenes. On the other hand, Kierst's portrayal of Amanda is unusually multi-facted. Instead of painting Amanda as a one-dimensional domineering smothering mother, Kierst attaches Amanda's growing sense of despair to her increasingly hysterical behavior. This sensitive vision of the wilted southern flower provides a character that the audience can sympathize with, which makes the ending quite dramatic.

Cameron Markham is simply the Gentleman Caller. His portrayal of the charismatic shoe factory supervisor is effortlessly natural, his delivery is smooth and he has a firm grip on his character's place in the play. The on-stage interaction between the Gentleman Caller and Laura is particularly good.

Laura is appropriately shy and she blends into the fragile scenery and delicate lighting of the play. Armstrong's use of voice is excellent, and the body language she uses to portray Laura's feelings effectively demonstrates her character's shyness.

"The Glass Menagerie" will run through March 25, with performances on

Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Tickets are $15 for general admission and $11 for students and seniors. Do not miss this opportunity to see Albuquerque community theater at its best.

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