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Sayville Players Bring Fragile Lives to Life

In this year’s production of The Glass Menagerie three different casts of Sayville Players examined characters.

Photo by Linda Mittiga/Sayville Schools.
Photo by Linda Mittiga/Sayville Schools.
Written by Linda Mittiga/Sayville Schools.

Since it began in 1979 with the works of Ionesco, the Sayville Players Theatre Laboratory, directed by Steven Hailey, has experimented with character development within a drama or comedy on a minimalist stage. 

In this year’s production of The Glass Menagerie, held in the Backstage Theatre-in-the-Round, three different casts of Sayville Players examined characters who, under the microscope of Tennessee Williams’ artistry, are polished by his rich prose.

On a lean set containing a dinner table, an old fashion phone, a typewriter, a few chairs, and a sofa, the audience was asked to imagine some otherwise “invisible” props in the impoverished apartment of the Wingfield family. Yet, there was no need to image the passion and poignancy of people trapped by hardships in the 1930s, thanks to the quality of each evening’s performance.

Tom Wingfield, the narrator and dutiful son, recounts in this “memory” play, the pivotal moments leading to his decision to either stay and help care for his fragile sister or become the writer he dreams of being. Players Liam Haber, Liam Hofmeister, and Tim Costorf mastered Tennessee Williams’ dense dialogue and intensity, yet each actor imbued the role with diverse emphasis and modulation that was fresh, witty, and compelling.

Playing Amanda, Tom’s mother, Sayville Players Emily Osterloh, Emily Nowlan, and Gena Mizzi also individualized the smothering behaviors and repetitive reminiscing of a woman who has suffered great disappointments in her marriage, her children, and her life.  

Each delivered an original version of Amanda with intricate nuances, played effectively off her evening’s cast.

Tom’s whisper of a sister, Laura, is the focal point of the clashing family dynamic. Isolated by her painful insecurities and as breakable as her glass figurines, disabled Laura is the least “chatty” of all the characters, but performers Angelina Keller, Jessica Leigh Manuell, and Dara Scolnick gave her tangible presence and hope when  gentleman caller, Jim O’Connor, praises her unique qualities.

Charismatic Jim O’Connor, deftly portrayed by Dalen Ferreira, Brian Walsh, and Sean McNally, has the gift of Irish gab that charms everyone, including the audience, into believing the introverted Laura could be saved, but just as he accidentally breaks the glass unicorn, his true plans shatter all hope.

Kudos to the Sayville Players for creating these memorable productions that were enriched by character.

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