A review by Pauline Flannery for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 

 

 

Young Directors and Northern Outlet present 
the UK PREMIERE of



74 GEORGIA AVENUE


by Murray Schisgal


Directed by Paul Blinkhorn

 


New End Theatre

9 - 19 March 2011 

 

 

74 Georgia Avenue is a one-act, bitter-sweet play that packs a powerful punch.
White, ex-ad-man Marty returns to the Jewish Brooklyn of his youth and encounters Joseph in the apartment where he was born. Opposites through race, social and economic opportunities, the two overcome differences to find a consolation through shared experience.


The themes are big: identity, patriarchy, duty and cultural adaptation. Daniel Dresner and Nathan Clough as Marty and Joseph, drive the action forward, under Paul Blinkhorn’s succinct direction.


The Yiddish accents and dialect are authentic - Brooklyn comes to Hampstead. The febrile energy of Dresner’s Marty is finely balanced against Clough’s more reflective persona. Yet Joseph’s suppressed anger is never far from the surface which gives the play an edge.


Joseph escapes his death-laden present by impersonating Jewish figures from the time when his father was janitor at the synagogue. This includes Marty’s grandfather. Marty escapes his foundering marriage and asks Joseph if he is a Dybbuk: a spirit believed to be the detached soul of a dead person. This is neat.


For these reveries transport the play well beyond the Brooklyn Bridge and explore how much we are all shaped by family and environment. Joseph dons the Tallit, prayer shawl, or coat as characters demand. The most effective, and important, realisation is Marty’s grandfather, the uber- patriarch; brought to life effectively by Clough, through the simple use of a brown homburg hat and walking stick.


This element of play-acting is central to theatre and is central to the play’s thematic exploration of adaption. Yet while this is playful to begin with, it changes when Marty interacts with his grandfather, as he desperately seeks atonement.  


The off-white set, designed by Rachael Vaughan, is a sparse, utilitarian space. This highlights Joseph’s tenuous grip on his present as he cares for his dying wife. The stained fridge-front coated in as many ghosts and dead dreams is suggestive of his care-worn condition. He has had it with death.


The evocative soundscapes, designed by Simon James Cookson, of traffic and trains outside, with moments of eerie suspension during Joseph’s reveries, offer a realistic urban context. Simultaneously, they are an uncomfortable reminder that outside life continues.


‘I want to stay but not for the reason I came for’, Marty says. This and the soulful singing of Yiddish hymns at different times are poignant reminders that empathy is perhaps the most powerful adaptive tool that we humans have.  

 

 
Tickets: £7 (£6) – available from the box office on 0870 033 2733 or www.newendtheatre.co.uk

 

Times: Tuesday to Saturday at 6.45pm, Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2.30pm.
0870 033 2733 www.newendtheatre.co.uk

NEW END THEATRE
27 NEW END, HAMPSTEAD, LONDON NW3 1JD
 

 


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