The Americans have been doing it for years, but this is the first time a British production of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie has made the Wingfield family African American, and it works brilliantly. Director Femi Elufowoju jr has only made a couple of minor changes to the text to fit in with the casting, but maintained the original setting of St Louis in 1930s. Lesley Ewen’s overbearing mother Amanda is a live wire that quickly switches from shouty to light and giggly, while Michael Abubakar plays her son Tom with the same level of passion, fire and charm. In between their sharp thorns is the painfully shy Laura played with wide-eyed vulnerability and childlike innocence by Naima Swaleh. Charlie Maher’s Jim, Tom’s colleague and orchestrated gentleman caller for Laura, is bright and cheerful, revealing a genuine compassion and hope for Laura’s difficult predicament.
E8TheatreWednesday June 12