A play about two brothers who need each other to coexist is the plot of the new play The Dazzle. ★★★
It’s the lead actor and the theatre itself that are the main attractions. Irish actor Andrew Scott is a huge film and television star who was most recently the character ‘C’ in the James Bond film Spectre. He’s won awards for his performance in the 2014 film ‘Pride’ and is also known for his television work including playing Jim Moriarty in the hit television show ‘Sherlock,’ as well as for his numerous stage appearances. The theatre, Found111 theatre on Charing Cross, is in the old Foyles bookstore building that was most recently the home to sold out performances of the all volunteer show ‘You Me Bum Bum Train.’
‘The Dazzle’ is performed in one of the building’s upper rooms, which is reached after a dizzying climb of three floors. It’s a room that must’ve been used as book storage for the bookstore, as it seats only 130, so it’s theatre at its most intimate, with the stage just inches away from the first row.
As for the show itself, it’s based on the true story of two brothers whose bodies were found amid 136 tons of clutter in a crumbling New York City townhouse in the 1940s.
Scott plays Langley Collyer, while David Dawson plays his brother Homer. Langley is a bit of an autistic savant – he’s a piano-playing genius but can’t seem to hold his own in life. He relies, depends and needs Homer to survive.
Homer makes sure that Langley is taken care of and reminds him to clean himself. And unfortunately the brothers are on the verge of being broke, so Homer has to urge Langely to perform for money, even though Langley doesn’t want to. Homer, meanwhile, is a non-practicing lawyer who toddles around their cluttered living room with a piano in its center. The boys lives get turned around when Milly Ashmore (Joanna Vanderham) visits. She’s a rich heiress who is taken by Langley’s boyish charm and good looks.
Soon enough that Homer sees an opportunity to marry Langley off to her to ensure their future. But the wedding doesn’t happen and it’s a catalyst that spins the brothers, and Milly’s, lives around, and not for the better.
‘The Dazzle,’ written by American Playwright Richard Greenberg, and directed by Simon Evans, is tricky to pull off because of the very intimate space. The actor’s every move, breathe, facial expression, and mistakes are captured finitely. But at times the actors seem to be overreaching a bit, putting on a show not just for the audience but for themselves as well. It’s all a bit overdramatic in parts where it doesn’t intend to be, and a bit unbelievable as the show plays out.
The show does have quite a few witty lines (“we have a blind cleaner who comes in and spits on the furniture” Homer tells Milly when she asks why their apartment is so dirty and cluttered), but it won’t be winning any awards. The wow factor in this show is seeing Andrew Scott, a rising star, very up close and personal, and the theatre itself, which is true pop-up theatre.
The Dazzle is playing until January 30, 2016. The run is totally sold out, however, day seats at £10 and any returns are available from 6pm on the door at FOUND111, 111 Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DT