There are other, more prosaic, issues with The Dazzle too. For all of its bar’s bijoux décor (and it is well bijoux), Found111 so far feels like an extraordinarily long climb to quite an unremarkable theatre space. Ben Stones’ design here, a kind of cross-section of a cube, with a long stretch of junk heading upstage to nowhere, fails to capture the cramped confines of the real Collyer flat, where Langley’s body was able to lie dead and undiscovered for 12 days following the finding of Homer’s.
But like Steptoe & Son in the films, Withnail & I in some of that stuff in the Lake’s, Bernard and Manny in the entirety of Series 3 of Black Books, Langley and Homer are only really convincing when they’re doing nothing. Greenberg hasn’t made any great attempt to reach the truth at the heart of the Collyer brothers, or the significance of their plight, they are only the springboard for some excellent writing and acting. When The Dazzle tries for something resembling tension, or dramatic structure, it all begins to tarnish.
So put him into a dark and murky, claustrophobic room in a derelict West End building in Charing Cross Road (once home to Central St Martin Art School) in a play about New York eccentrics at the beginning of the 20th century, light the blue touch paper and stand back.The award-winning Richard Greenberg (Take Me Out, Three Days of Rain and The Dazzle) writes, somewhat ingenuously, of this 2002 work: `it is based on the Collyer Brothers about whom I know almost nothing.’ The Collyer Brothers turn out to be one of New York’s richest urban myths about two reclusive, compulsive hoarders and brothers, who died in 1947.Greenberg takes this is a starting point for an extraordinary attack on conventional living and ode to heightened sensibility as well as a study in fraternal love, bleached by guilt, anger and frustration.In real life, Langley Collyer (Scott) took care of his increasingly blind brother, Homer.
Scott is the outwardly brilliant musical prodigy, Langley; an ear tuned like Roderick Usher’s, and with a temperament as brittle, like a frozen piano string. Dawson is the less assuming, more socially competent, and ultimately more intriguing Homer, who has developed a kind of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, acting at first as his brother’s sort-of-agent, then his carer, then even his gaoler. As the years go by they goad each other into ever more extravagant forms of lethargy and eccentricity. They squabble and meander, they morph through permutations of dependence and reciprocity – they become a dozen double acts, they echo every form of brotherly, parental and even platonically romantic kind of coupling.