Mark Herman’s Little Voice and Tennessee Williams Glass Menagerie are very similar, in many ways yet the two also have their many differences. In both stories, the girl, Laura or LV is searching for freedom, and they live in a one-parent family where the dad either died or ran off a long time ago.
The Glass Menagerie is set in America in the 1940’s-1950’s. The Wingfield family consists of Amanda: Amanda is physically small, full of life, but grasping for another era of gentility or civility that no longer exists, however is also admirable, pitiable and laughable at the same time; Laura is the daughter of Amanda and the brother of tom. She is crippled and walks with a limp and a brace. Laura has retreated into her own fragile world that centers around her collection of glass figurines; Tom is an aspiring poet, and works at the warehouse to support his sister and mother. He can’t take much more of the numbing life he now leads; he plans to make an escape.
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The Glass Menagerie is a memory play. Tom is the narrator and it is through his memory that we gain access to the action of the play. He is a struggling poet, working miserably at the shoe warehouse to support his mother (Amanda) and sister (Laura). The father ran away years ago and except for one postcard, he was never heard from again.
The family situation is like a time bomb waiting to go off. Laura is a bashful, modest and reserved creature who has retreated from her world into a world or her own making: a collection of glass animals. Amanda is a woman grasping desperately for the elegant fashion of her youth, now non-existent. Although she wants the best for her children, her nagging and intervention are overwhelming. Tom cannot bear this life for much longer, Movies offer him an escape through vicarious adventure, but it is now no longer enough. He feels the urge to follow his father’s footsteps and find adventure of his own.
Afraid that Laura will end up an unmarried woman, Amanda is obsessed with the idea of a gentleman caller. The drama centers around a visit from one such witting young man, and its disastrous effect on Laura’s fragile universe.
Little Voice is set in the 1990’s in England. The main character LV is played by Jane Horrocks, she is in her young 20’s, she has negative traits about herself which are that she is pessimistic and secretive, LV is extremely sensitive in the way that she is nave, has feelings of guilt, self doubt, sad, scared, shy, insecure, and is emotionally vulnerable and insecure. Mari (played by Brenda Blethyn) is LV’s mother. She is in her mid 40’s, and her negative traits are jealousy, she is burned out, unapologetic, domineering, demanding, quick to anger, greedy, cynical, and money angry.
Little Voice is a magical musical comedy chat the power and perils of expression. Little Voice is based on one of London’s most acclaimed hit plays called “the rise and Fall of Little Voice”. The story follows the mysterious LV, who lives in the dark attic of an untidy disheveled house on a dead end street in a seaside town of Northern England. Ever since her father’s death, LV has been silent, spending her days listening to his incredible, classic record collection and living in the enchanted charm of his favorite singers and performers. Meanwhile, her motor mouthed mother Mari is living it up, continuing on a boozy cruise for exciting lovers.
Then a man struts into Mari’s life: Ray Say, a sleazy and spectacularly unsuccessful local talent agent. Meanwhile LV has a revolutionary run-in of her own with a man almost as shy as she is-a telephone repairman named Bill, who isn’t much for vocal communication. It is the first time that anyone other than her father, has paid any attention to her.
LV may not speak, but she does sing, uncannily capturing the legendary inflections and personas of Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich, Shirley Bassey, and Marilyn Monroe. Just as things were opening up for LV, Ray Say, hears the magical strains of Judy Garland coming from her room, and realizes that that is no ghost, it’s LV. Stunned by her talent, he smells the big time. Desperation and dreams collide as he and Mari stake everything on making the terrified LV into a star. When LV’s private gift becomes a public spectacle, she stands in the crossroads of losing her soul, or finding her own true voice.
In Little Voice there is no Tom. However Tom’s character in Glass Menagerie is made into the character Ray Say’s in Little Voice. Other differences between the two are that: in the Glass Menagerie, the father had run away years ago, and in Little Voice, the father had died. In Glass Menagerie, Laura did not sing as in Little voice, however she still listened and loved her father’s records. In both stories, there is a picture hanging from LV’s/Laura’s room, of their father.
Although he doesn’t appear in the movie or play, he still plays a major role in the development of LV/ Laura. It is the father figure in Little Voice that makes her into a singing Diva. Before Mari knew that LV could sing as well as she could, Mari paid no attention to her at all, but as soon as she found out that her daughters special talent could earn her money, she did everything to get her up on stage. Finally this got too much for LV, and she blew up at her. She got sick of all that her mother did to treat her like dirt. She yelled and screamed at her, telling her that she was sick of it. This would never of happened in Glass Menagerie because in the 1940’s, to yell at ones mother like that would be totally disrespectful. Another difference between the two is that Glass Menagerie is set in the time of poverty, it is clear that the Wingfield family are struggling with their everyday life because of the money aspect. Little Voice seems to have no upfront problems with money.
In both stories, Laura and LV are searching for freedom. Laura in Glass Menagerie is searching for freedom from the constant bickering between Tom, Amanda and herself. LV is searching for freedom from her mother’s promiscuous behavior. In Little Voice, LV finds love in Bill. Bill is the telephone repairman. Bill and LV can relate to each other because neither Bill nor LV were ones for verbal communication. Bill expresses his emotions and feelings through the love for his pigeons, while LV expresses herself through her singing, mostly towards her father.
There was one stage in Glass Menagerie when Laura though that she could’ve fallen in love. This was with Jim O’Connor. Jim was a star in high school, where he knew both tom and Laura. Now he is a shipping clerk at the warehouse where Tom also works. He is an ordinary guy with a straightforward vision of success. Tom invited him over to dinner after Amanda was worried of Laura ending up a spinster (unmarried woman). Amanda nagged him to bring home someone for Laura to meet. By the end of the night, Jim had really made Laura come out of her shell.
However all hopes of love were shattered, when at the end of the night, Jim announced that he was to be married later that year.
Glass Menagerie and Little Voice are very similar in the way that the characters have the same character traits, and the story line is similar, but the two are also very different. Mark Herman adapted his Little Voice from Williams’ Glass Menagerie, very well because it is not too similar and not too different. It had to be different in some ways because of the plagiarism and copyright laws. The two stories are so alike, yet so different which is what made the adaptation from Glass Menagerie to Little Voice so well done.
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