From one show about a pair of reclusive hoarders to another: after seeing the Grey Gardens musical last week, I come to The Dazzle, performed in the former St Martin’s College of Art building on Charing Cross Road, renamed Found111. However, whereas the former show left me with a sense of admiration for the mother and daughter living independently, The Dazzle had a much more melancholy tone.
Richard Greenberg’s play is about the Collyer brothers, who were found dead in their New York mansion in 1947, buried under a pile of junk. It begins in 1905, when Langley Collyer, a talented pianist, and his brother Homer, a former lawyer, live a privileged life mixing with society and – in Langley’s case – demonstrating his musical talent and sporadically pursuing the wealthy heiress Milly Ashmore. Later, the brothers start to retreat from the world, growing more and more isolated and eccentric, reliant upon one another and turning into compulsive hoarders.
The three-hander stars Andrew Scott as Langley: on television, I am not a fan of the actor (I find his Moriarty in Sherlock supremely irritating) but here I began to see why he is so acclaimed, his quirky performance and strong stage presence bringing his socially awkward character to life. I was also impressed with David Dawson as his brother Homer, bringing out the character’s love for and frustration with his talented brother. Joanna Vanderham has a difficult job as Milly, a much less rounded character than the two brothers, but I felt she did an excellent job, and was particularly moving in the second half of the play.