The Glass Menagerie at Bath Theatre Royal - Harry Potter star impresses but newcomer Kasper shines brightest

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‘Emotionally suffocating, but gripping nonetheless’

Geraldine Somerville may be best known as Harry’s mum Lily in the Harry Potter films but in The Glass Menagerie she plays a very different sort of mother.

Somerville leads the cast at Bath Theatre Royal as southern belle Amanda Wingfield in director Atri Banerjee’s reimagining of the 1940s Tennessee Williams classic.

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Set in Depression era St Louis, this semi-autobiographical memory play made Williams’s name and features characters based on his mentally fragile sister and a melodramatic mother who’s still coming to terms with her drunken husband leaving her and still pines for the days when ‘gentlemen callers’ knocked on her door.

Amanda is desperate to find a man for her lonely daughter Laura (Natalie Kimmerling), while Hollywood film-obsessed son Tom (Kasper Hilton-Hille) has dreams of becoming a writer while working in a dreary warehouse.

When Tom brings home work colleague Jim O’Connor (Zacchaeus Kayode) to meet his sister, Amanda seizes the opportunity to try and change their fortunes forever.

Although there are a few humorous lines, the overall mood is a gloomy one as the family bickers and events twist and turn.

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Geraldine Somerville as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (Photo: Marc Brenner)Geraldine Somerville as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (Photo: Marc Brenner)
Geraldine Somerville as Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (Photo: Marc Brenner)

As the ageing debutante, Somerville brings plenty of faded glamour to the role of Amanda although her delivery is often barely more than a whisper and there were several lines I couldn’t hear from the middle of the stalls (I wasn’t the only one - the chap in the row in front was adjusting his hearing aids throughout).

For me, the real star was Kasper Hilton-Hille, who only graduated from drama college last year. As the narrator and son Tom, this talented newcomer showed great confidence and command of the stage. He’s a name to watch closely.

With a simple set dominated by a huge, illuminated ‘Paradise’ sign that slowly revolves throughout the entire two and a half hour show, there is a claustrophobic feel as the play becomes more and more intense. 

OK, there are very few laughs in this gloomy classic and it’s emotionally suffocating, but it’s totally gripping nonetheless.

The Glass Menagerie is at Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday May 18. To book tickets contact the Theatre Royal Bath Box Office on 01225 448844 or visittheatreroyal.org.uk

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