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Broken Glass brilliance @tricycletheatre

Glass Several theatre tweeps have spoken very highly of the Tricycle's production of Broken Glass from last year and I'm going to have to add my own superlatives. In a sentence, this production is faultless. 

It is one of Arthur Miller's later plays, written in the early 1990's but set in 1930s New York as the Nazi's were beginning to persecute Jews in Germany.

Like many of his stories he sets about destroying the image of a seemingly happy family. Sylvia Gellburg (Tara Fitzgerald) has suddenly lost the use of her legs and her loving husband Phillip (Antony Sher) is determined to do everything he can to get her better again.

Through a series of meetings between Phillip and Dr Harry Hyman (Stanley Townsend) and meetings between Dr Hyman and Sylvia the veneer over the Gellburg's relationship begins to peel and the source of Sylvia's conversion disorder or hysteria, as it was diagnosed back then, is revealed.

This being Miller the source of the problem is of course complex and multi-faceted. This play is about identity, racism, prejudice, love and respect and it is gripping and emotional stuff.

The staging is beautifully simple. A cellist signals the start of each new scene with snatches of beautifully sad and haunting tunes. Furniture is limited to a bed, two chairs and Sylvia's wheelchair. It leaves plenty of room for the stunning performances.

It may surprise some but this is the first time I've seen Antony Sher on the stage. Such is his talent that he seemed to physically grow smaller as the play progresses.

Sylvia is a difficult character to make believable - she's a strong, intelligent woman floored by a seemingly inexplicable mental illness. Fitzgerald gives her charm and strength but with just enough vulnerability and neediness in what seems like an effortless performance.

And of course I already love Stanley Townsend - it's his second Miller play this year having done a fantastic turn as Eddie in A View From the Bridge in Edinburgh earlier this year. With Dr Hyman you have to believe he was hit with the ladies in his youth and can still turn on the charm, winning hearts but without being oily or dislikeable.

The supporting cast also put in excellent performances as I said at the beginning, I can't fault this play. I'm giving it five stars.

Try and catch it at the Tricycle Theatre (finishes September 10) before it transfers to the West End, you won't regret it.


No direct connection that I can see. But plenty of connection connections if you know what I mean and these are just the Tara ones...

Tara Fitzgerald was in The Misanthrope which also featured Dominic Rowan who recently appeared with Romolai Garai in The Village Bike and who, of course, appeared with Mr W in The Hour.

Tara was also in A Doll's House at the Donmar with Anton Lesser who is another Hour alumni. And she was in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (a classic novel in need of a new adaptation if ever there was one) which also starred Mr Dominic Rowan (again) but also Pam Ferris who was in the radio play Arthur with Mr W. Thought that last one would impress, it's a recent discovery. The radio play that is.

I could go on as there is another connection with her appearance in Brassed off (Pete Postlethwaite), Jane Eyre (Pam Ferris, again) and...oh OK that's enough.