Memory and dream

9th June 1995 at 01:00
The evanescence of memory is evoked in Alison Hefernan's set for The Glass Menagerie (Royal Theatre, Northampton), floorboards merging into open grilles and gauzy screens on which dream images as well as Tennessee Williams' captions are projected.

But Richard Digby Day gives a solid habitation to the Wingfields, right from Tom Holmes' forceful delivery of Tom's socio-political time setting. And with dad's toothpaste grin gleaming constantly from the wall, Helen Ryan's Amanda acquires an unusual realism. For once it's possible to feel her telesales clients are unreasonable in putting the phone down on her. Such solid sense makes her appearance in her old dress unlikely, but it gives force to her anguish over Laura's giving up her secretarial course and motivates her far-from-fanciful interest in gentleman callers.

It could be argued this distorts the play. Certainly it exists in a social vacuum; the dance hall is represented by a projection, confusing its reality with the series of projected memories and fantasies. But there's plentiful detail within the home - like Biddy Hodson's Laura rushing to fasten Tom's shoelace. And it's fascinating to see Amanda focused on her daughter's future not her own past.

To June 17. Runs 212 hours. Tickets: 01604 32533.

The Importance of Being Earnest is at Birminghtam Rep until June 24 and not as stated in last week's TES.

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