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“…I am the opposite of a stage magician. He gives you illusion that has the appearance of truth. I give you truth in the pleasant disguise of illusion,” says Tom at the beginning of Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, the playwright’s semi-autobiographical tale of the Wingfield family: Amanda, the faded Southern matriarch clinging desperately to her past in the face of an uncertain future; Laura, the debilitatingly shy daughter who suffers from a disability; and Tom, the unhappy son who drifts between his present escape and hazy memories of their St. Louis apartment. Tom serves as a stand-in for Williams, whose own beloved, schizophrenic sister, Rose, lived most of her life in institutions after undergoing a prefrontal lobotomy. Seventy years later, the “memory play,” as Williams called it, remains a pillar of American theater—an examination of family, obligation, vulnerability, and fear in post-Depression America. It’s also a play with gloriously exacting stage directions, which makes staging a difficult task. (A photograph of the long-absent father is described thusly: “He is gallantly smiling, ineluctably smiling, as if to say, ‘I will be smiling forever.’”) Mark Ramont’s production at Ford’s Theatre is simply staged, perfectly lit, and passionately acted. The play’s tragic end won’t be a surprise to most patrons, but the path is still as painful as it was when I first read it in 10th grade. The play runs Jan. 22 to Feb. 21 at Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW. $20–$62. (202) 347-4833. fords.org.