Five minutes into John Dexter’s revival of The Glass Menagerie it had become apparent that something was wrong. The audience was laughing. Not laughing out of hostility or derision, but laughing the way people do when they think someone has just said something funny, before they realize that it isn’t meant to be funny at all.

Tom was talking to the audience, which always comes as a surprise in itself. For what one remembers about The Glass Menagerie are its characters (the forlorn sister and the impossibly domineering mother), the fiery exchanges between mother and son, the little glass animals that keep breaking at opportune moments, and a lot of fuss being made about a “gentleman caller.” One tends to forget that it is Tom who begins and ends the play and that the scenes we see enacted between Amanda, Tom, Laura, and the Gentleman Caller are presented as...


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