Dazzled by The Dazzle

I really admire Andrew Scott for being such a champion of contemporary theatre. You can only see a certain amount of Shakespeare before craving something fresh.

Sabine Koch reviews…
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Richard Greenberg’s play, The Dazzle, offers that in a real-life story with characters that are funny, irritating and heartbreaking. This is the UK premiere of the 2002 award-winning play.

Andrew Scott is Langley, brother to Homer Collyer, played by David Dawson, based on New York siblings who set the gold standard in hoarding.

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They exist in co-dependency and at first glance, Langley seems more fragile and incapable to deal with the outside world on his own.

While that remains so until the end, you can also see Homer losing his grip on reality and his going blind doesn’t trigger a reversal in their relationship.

The play opens in the already crowded but still manageable apartment of the Collyers. In it, the brothers lead an eccentric but rather nurturing life. Playing piano and reading books in splendid isolation. Cue the interruption of a beautiful young socialite also seeking a way out from her rich, stifling family.

The second act takes place in the same apartment – now crammed with even more junk. The years pass.

This all sounds quite glum but it is touching and funny.

Andrew Scott gives an intense performance as the man-child, who is so engrossed by the world and everything in it, that he can’t deal with it in a “normal” way,  being overwhelmed by even the tiniest details in the world, a grain of sand or a leaf.

Langley could be thought of “autistic spectrum”, but that would limit our perception of him. I’d much rather let him be this unique, indescribable specimen, that is enchanting, albeit tragic.

The surprise for me was David Dawson, an actor I only know from the Hollow Crown series on BBC. He was equally impressive as the functioning Homer, with endearing quality. Although his role is less flashy, he manages to instill his character with depth and heart.

Joanna Vanderham as socialite Milly Ashmore is great as the catalyst – or as they call her – the enzyme. She feels vital to piece, holding her own next to the brothers.

You can’t talk about this play without mentioning the new theatre space in which it is shown. The Found 111 is in the former Central St Martin’s College of Art on Charing Cross Road, London.

Up 71 cold stone steps to a tiny space that seats 130 people makes for one of the best experiences I have had in any theatre.

The set extends to the collection of mismatched chairs for the audience.

Get there early to enjoy the Tipple Club – which also evokes the mood of the play – dark, speak easy New York with proper cocktails.
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The play runs until January 30 and tickets are still available for many of the dates.

sohotheatre.com/whats-on/the-dazzle

Read more reviews from Sabine Koch here:
THEATRE REVIEW: Sea Wall with Andrew Scott at Dublin Theatre Festival
Dublin Play Festival 

REVIEW: Sound Unbound Festival at the Barbican

MUSIC REVIEW: Clubbing The Blues in Dublin

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