The Dazzle

22 Nov

This is an intriguing piece of theatre; 100 minutes of fascinating language play that doesn’t want to let you go.

Richard Greenberg’s play was written in 2002, but is set in 1940’s New York. It feels earlier, as though the past were something to not let go.

A play about recluses, about hoarders; the whole thing’s about not letting go.

Langley (Alec Ebert) is the more obviously neurotic of two brothers. He was once a performing pianist, but his playing has slowed down, because he hangs on to every note.  Nor does he want to let go of all the stuff he has brought into the house. And change, of any sort, is a problem. When Milly, a wealthy heiress, shows an interest, he longs to be “Adam before the inconvenience of Eve”.

Homer (Steve Corner), the primary carer for Langley, explains his situation as “I am my brother’s…accountant”. Considering the tensions between the siblings, it’s a suitable allusion to Cain and Abel.

It some ways, it feels a little like Henry James on speed; we remain in the drawing room of the brothers’ house and 140 tonnes* of words, fast, loud and fun, bounce off the walls, and fall in bewildering, ever-growing piles around us.

Director Jane Angharad’s cast, despite the contained nature of the play’s world (or maybe because of it) deliver high-energy vocal performances: tight, intense and inspiringly focused.

Meg Hyeronimus as Milly presents an especially engaging character arc, moving adroitly from a glib flirtatiousness to a deep vulnerability tempered by dignity.

Homer makes sense of the title for us; he’s conscious of a “dazzling” array of neurotics who command the world with their imperatives: I cannot throw out a single piece of paper; I cannot listen to poorly performed music; I cannot let things go. The list of imperatives is mine, but I believe they are true to the spirit of the human experience explored – the temptation to control.

(From personal experience) I term it a temptation, and that is, of course, a harsh way to describe what might be called a mental illness, but theatre – and theatre like this especially – dissolves all disputes regarding nomenclature, being like that long warm soak in sparkling suds that loosens all labels.  

Paul Gilchrist

The Dazzle by Richard Greenberg

Meraki Arts Bar until 3 Dec

Image by Clare Hawley

*140 tonnes of collected items was what was eventually discovered in the home of the Collyer brothers of New York, whose lives inspired this play.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: