Academy-award nominated Murray Schisgal’s play is something of an oddity. For a start it’s only 40 minutes long. Daniel Dresner is Marty, a man returning to the home of his Brooklyn youth. Nathan Clough is Joseph, the current tenant of 74 Georgia Avenue and the son of the janitor of the neighbourhood’s old synagogue that Marty’s family used to attend. Over the course of one evening the two men find some common ground through Joseph’s mysterious transformations.
The underlying idea of the play was interesting but the execution and its brevity made it hard to connect with the characters. Dresner, slightly overdoing the De Niro-esque hand wringing, was never entirely convincing until a lengthy speech towards the end. Clough was more believable but as he morphed into ghostly figures from Marty’s past it was hard to suspend disbelief entirely. Some strange lighting changes didn’t help the cause.
While the storyline may appeal to the Jewish community, it proved a little inaccessible for me and the narrative wasn’t given time to evolve and compel me to care about the characters. It would probably work better as a short story but would always be a challenging play to stage.
74 Georgia Avenue is on at the New End Theatre until March 19th
*Disclaimer: I received a free ticket courtesy of the theatre