Parody goes political
The Plexiglas Menagerie
The Plexiglas Menagerie is the real deal. A send-up of the Tennessee Williams memory play and a political diatribe against the government's puny “emergency response” to Hurricane Katrina, it is an ambitious and hilarious (especially if you appreciate camp and potty-mouth humor) reimagining of an American theater classic.
Ryan Landry of the Boston-based fringe theater company the Gold Dust Orphans wrote The Plexiglass Menagerie and played matriarch Amanda in the original production. (In the classical tradition, all the parts are played by men.) In the SacImpulse production now at the Geery Theater, the incredible Jerry Lee becomes Mama. Lee also directs the play, which, like dreams and memories, sometimes gets a little confused and takes unintended and unhelpful diversions as it finds its way.
The action takes place at the Wingfield family's Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer in the still-devastated Ninth Ward as an equally devastated Tom Wingfield (John Ross) narrates. Tom is forced to work in hurricane-damage demolition, “pushing aside another dream,” he says. His fragile sister Laura (perfectly embodied by Logan Heller) worked oh so briefly as a makeup artist at the local morgue, and Mama Amanda recalls her own “gentlemen callers” quite different from Williams' imaginings.
The original play focused on the overbearing Amanda and the disillusioned Tom, but this play (heavy with social and political import) puts the spotlight on Laura, whose shyness and lame leg are the least of her problems. Gender identity and self-acceptance are among playwright Landry's concerns here—and he's not above crude revelations to make his point.
Amanda's telephone magazine-sales job in the original becomes a gig selling mail-order guns. Subplots include Tom's involvement with a revolutionary group aimed at killing President George W. Bush during Mardi Gras and a real-estate agent's nefarious attempt to undervalue the Wingfields' property. The agent (a fine Will Finan) is the mistaken gentleman caller of this play and crucial to Laura's survival.