The UK premiere of Murray Schisgal’s 74 Georgia Avenue deals with issues of religious and familial acceptance, the attempted correction of perceived past wrongs, and the converging experiences of two individuals who struggle to cope with the trials and identity crises that life has unexpected thrown at them. We meet Martyn Roberts visiting the apartment in Brooklyn that he himself inhabited 30 years ago. The present occupier, Joseph Watson, inhabits the apartment with his ailing wife, who is never seen and little heard, aside from the occasional tinkling of a bell to summon him to her bedside.
The naturalistic set and some good direction by Paul Blinkhorn shine as being thoughtfully and purposefully placed
This two-man play demands subtle and touching performances which are not, frustratingly, always delivered. The inconsistency in the actors’ accents and, often, a lack of intention behind what has the potential to be a powerful text, does not do the writing justice. The challenging role of Joseph is approached with commitment by Nathan Clough, which is credible given the sensational plot line of 74 Georgia Avenue – he is frequently required to step out of his body in a bizarre Dibuk-esque fashion – and the role of Martyn is zealously portrayed by Daniel Dresner with an urgency that often grates.
Various moments in this play do however provide a kind of saving grace for all involved. For instance, a simple, subtle discussion of the domestic trials of marriage is far more touching than the clamouring demands for love and connection which permeate throughout. Furthermore, the naturalistic set and some good direction by Paul Blinkhorn shine as being thoughtfully and purposefully placed. A play for Schisgal lovers, this production bravely sets out to tackle a challenging script, yet remains ill-equipped to give the two central characters the full characterisation that 74 Georgia Avenue so desperately needs to be a success.
*** (3 stars)
Runs until 19th March.