By Mike Smollins
“This is more than a play, this is a memory,” said the main character Tom, played by Robert Doyle, to open the play “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams in the Theatre Arts Room 119 in the Islip Arts building on opening night March 12.
From that point on, the audience was hooked into what was an often funny, yet heart-wrenching tale of a family’s struggle.
Doyle portrayed the guilt-stricken, fed up, yet often humorous Tom Wingfield and completely roped the audience in with his great use of body language and ability to make the audience chuckle even when it was a serious scene.
For those people who don’t enjoy the play by reading it in a book, you are not alone. However, the words on the page don’t do justice to this play as when it is performed live it is really captivating and can totally change a person’s thoughts on it.
Doyle’s character was the supporter of the Wingfield family, as he worked a job he hated at the factory just to put food on the table for the family and in order to make sure that the lights stayed on in their tiny apartment. Reading the play in a book, the reader can’t quite imagine how cramped that tiny apartment is until you see the set and the actors trying to move around with it in the play.
He hated that job, and used the movies as an escape to get away from the apartment. Though Doyle had a few slip ups here and there with lines, it didn’t matter as he was still able to make the audience laugh and brought a tear to the eyes of many with his narratives.
Jessika Kerimian played the role of Amanda, a mother of two kids, Tom and Laura, who was often over-bearing yet always wanted the best for her kids. Kerimian took to the role to a level that really made the audience take to her character. Her ability to stay upbeat and sing, and just act crazy while working the nerves of Tom, which made for a lot of humor , as well as a lot of arguments throughout the play. The audience ate it up.
Amanda was a character who married and had two kids that she loved with “A telephone man who fell in love with long distance.” Her husband left her and her two kids, yet his picture still hung on the wall as a reminder of the past. Amanda didn’t want her son Tom to become like his father, and she feared he was heading down the wrong track.
This led to numerous quarrels between the two which led to both actors pouring their hearts out as well as making the audience crack up due to the humor of their actions against each other. Doyle and Kerimian had great chemistry with each other throughout the night.
Kerimian’s character was so worried about her daughter Laura, played by Sinem Gulturk. Laura was a shy girl who felt very inferior due to being “crippled.” Throughout the play, each character would have a moment to make it a point to tell her, “You’re not crippled, you just have a slight defect,” to bring up her spirits.
While Tom and Amanda never seemed to get along, they both seemed to have a strong relationship with Laura, which made for scenes that came from the heart between each actor and Gulturk. Amanda just wished her daughter, who constantly played with her glass menagerie, would meet a gentlemen caller, and it was Tom who brought one over. While reading the play can give you a slight sense of what is going on, you really can’t get as good of a feel for the characters until you see the play live.
The gentlemen caller was played by Jonathon Crimeni. Crimeni was yet another actor that stole the audience’s heart with his wit. He played a rather pompous gentlemen who was still upset with the fact that no one remembered his glory days of high school. Though he was often hilarious for his zaniness, he had great chemistry with Gulturk’s character and said some great things about her.
The play overall was about two hours in duration, and had the audience laughing and even crying throughout it. It had a great mix of emotions and that kept everyone into it. The fact that you could actually see the set and just how tiny the apartment was really made you understand the relationships further than the words on a page ever could. The cramped apartment really made you see just why Doyle’s character became so irritated at times.
Charles Wittreich, the Academic Chair of Theatre Arts, was the director and scenic designer for the play. In 1986, he graduated from Suffolk’s Theatre Training Program. From there, he went to Penn State University and earned a BFA in Theatre Production. He is now back at this College as a director and scenic designer. Wittreich has even been an assistant on Broadway in shows such as You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
For anyone who wants to see “The Glass Menagerie,” call the box office for any information. The show will be playing there until Sunday, March 23. The ticket prices are as follows: General Admission is $8, Student Admission is $6, for students that go to this college, admission is free with a student ID, for Alumni of this College, it is $6 with alumni membership, children are admitted for $6, and senior citizens are admitted for $6, but $5 on Sundays.
This is the first major production of the Suffolk Spotlight for the 2009 Spring Semester. If there is anyone who didn’t like reading the work or just wants to see a play, this play is the right one for them. It can really change your perspective on this story.