Sunday, February 21, 2016

Visions of Grace at Ford's (The Glass Menagerie)

Dear Edward Duke,

It's been 30 years since I first saw you at Ford's Theatre in your "cheap little show"--then as today the Sunday matinee closer. I still disagree with you that Sunday matinees are the worst houses, for we gave a heartfelt standing ovation to the cast of The Glass Menagerie: Tom Story as Tom Wingfield, Madeleine Potter as Amanda, Jenna Sokolowski as Laura, and Thomas Keegan as Jim O'Connor (aka the gentleman caller).

As proof of this cast's worth (and a concession to your insistence that Sunday audiences are bad), when a cell phone went off twice (yes, the caller called the same phone twice) during a particularly poignant speech of Laura's near the end of the show, Sokolowski held her breath and held the moment and the magic until it was safe for her to continue her speech. GoodNESS! I imagine they all--as you and I would have--wanted to go all Patti LuPone on that "I'm too important to turn my cell phone off" audience member's ass, but they didn't.

Tom, was that one of the tricks up your sleeve? The magic act that actors and poets and playwrights and other dear things rely on to keep us on the edges of our seats, breathless?

Edward, you would have loved Tom Story. Edward, meet Tom; Tom, Edward. As much as I love Tom's comedic roles, there is power in his drama. I'll confess I was tempted to wiggle my way backstage to gush, but my Laura side demurred.

I also wanted to tell Laura that it gets better. I cried when they danced: The gentleman caller sweeps the "crippled" girl up in a sweet waltz and she is suddenly transformed. He gives her a vision of herself as graceful and alive. I want her (and me) to not let disappointment turn into discouragement. It's a delicate balance (oh, wait--that's Albee).

And even if my happy memories of Edward Duke are no more substantial than a glass unicorn, they are a treasure of infinite worth for the joy they brought--and bring.

Happy Anniversary, dear old thing.

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