HOUSTON -- "I'm 70 years old. This is my second time to direct The Glass Menagerie. I'm finding more moments that I think are mellow," observed Jim Young on the eve of the revival of Tennessee Williams' poignant 1944 memory play by the A. D. Players in Houston. What Williams originally called The Gentleman Caller begins a six-week run Feb. 13.
"I'm no longer an alienated 28-year-old on a crusade to find indignation in the family drama," Young declared. "I'm noticing more compassion in, and between, Tom and Laura." To Young, Tom and Laura reflect a sibling relationship all about the lyrical and lamentable ties that bind. And while oftentimes exasperated by their mother Amanda's well-intentioned but stifling ways, "they experience a gamut of emotions, rather than simple ambivalence." As the triangle grows acute, love and animosity dissect, desperation and humor intersect, and fantasy and reality take the measure of each other .
The A.D. Players is a professional Christian troupe. But though Young is former chair of the "Religion and Theater" project of American Theater in Higher Education, he's a guest director here, having spent much of his career as a drama professor at such schools as the Universities of Wisconsin and Massachusetts and Wheaton College, and as national adjudicator for the American College Theater Festival, for which he selected plays for the Kennedy Center Festival. "I don't know the Houston audience well. But the more we create honestly the characters, the more they apply universally. Williams illuminates the subtle but truthful development of human interaction we tend to overlook.
"If we trouble some theatergoers, we will inspire others. Theater is supposed to do both. Theater's greatest gift is to explore the humane. And Williams provides us with a sublime example how we cannot know people in an instant."
The Glass Menagerie runs Feb. 13 - March 22 at the A.D. Players in Houston. For tickets, $16, call (713) 526-2721. -- By Peter Szatmary