Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Prisoner Of Second Avenue -Review- People's Theatre

Prisoner Of Second Avenue

7 May 2013

Neil Simon has always been ahead of the game, when it comes to script/play writing. His 'Barefoot In The Park' and 'The Odd Couple' were miles ahead of anything and anybody at the time. Real stuff, real lives!
Prisoner Of Second Avenue continues in a similar vein, wrote in 1971 the sentiments and the angst of the characters carry on in our day to day life, even as I write this review.
Set in New York' Upper East Side, it challenges the thin divide between harmony of the soul and the disharmony of everything else in between.
Mel and Edna Edison used to lead an ordinary life in the hustle and bustle of the City, the fumes and the noise of the passing cars even up in their 14th floor apartment, would have been enough to drive them to the brink. The heat and the semi working air conditioning unit is starting to take its toll. Their neighbours are loud and unsympathetic and are as gritty as the situation that surrounds them. The rising crime wave with house burglaries the norm is also becoming hard to stomach.
Work for them both isn't great, times are tough and lay offs are a common place in the days of austerity and lack of business funds. Mel is a worrier, his latest worry is future bound. What if he loses his job, how will he cope with the fragility in his mind...and in his heart. His worries, and his severe anxiety outbreaks spill over into his personal life with Edna, his hardworking wife, bearing the brunt of his frustrations. She is the sensible one, and can almost grasp at any angle for hope that will help them both out in the situation. Mel is a proud man though, who will not settle for anything less than what his head tells him, so compromise is a big issue.
Compromise is not big in Mels's family either, when the time comes to help out in a big way, their issues with their brother spiral out of control and affect their thin stringed relationship to almost breaking point.

Bill Harrington playing the harangued and confused Mel, was almost perfect in this role, his sense and depth of the character he was portraying shone out of every pore, very convincing and as Mr Simon wanted it, very real!
Maggie Childs, playing his wife Edna, was superb as she juggled her characters worries with the love that she had for her hubby.
Val Russell (Jessie), Anne Cater (Pearl), Gordon Russell (Harry), and Karen Elliot (Pauline) all pulled in a fantastic effort as the sparring, but caring, Harrington family. The cross section of a normal-ish family, with head honcho, leading his troops into battle, being superbly undertook by this great supporting cast.

Directors Marina Cornish and Brian Green have done a great job to capture the fantastic taste and feel of the original airing, bring realism of everyday happenings, stress and the strains, that we all unfortunately have had a taste of, or is never too far away from our future thoughts.
A great tragdi-comedy of a play that is well worth the time to see.

Prisoner Of Second Avenue is playing until 11th May

Michael Hunter

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