Joanna McClelland Glass’s “Making an attempt” pairs a crotchety previous man with a spunky younger lady in an odd-couple relationship that does not have any hope of lasting, however… you may by no means guess what! Limitations erode as the 2 discover widespread floor for a heat mutual affection to develop.
New Jersey theater-goers have seen the identical story unfold not too long ago in Hoboken with Mile Sq.’s “Driving Miss Daisy” and “The Web Will Seem.”
For George Avenue Playhouse regulars, the story may recall to mind John Logan’s “Pink” or in an solely barely completely different vein, “Daddy Lengthy Legs.” Pixar has crafted this acquainted mildew into “Up” and “Despicable Me.” The icy veneer of an previous crank steadily melted away by the resilient attraction of a stranger? Acquainted.
Glass’s play clings eagerly to this paradigm, extra excited by telling a specific story than in any kind of dramatic or theatrical inventiveness, making for a protracted, tedious night.
Glass’s story is autobiographical: As a younger lady, she took a job as secretary to an ageing Francis Biddle, lawyer basic below Roosevelt, and later chief choose of the army tribunal at Nuremberg.
A two-hander, “Making an attempt” opens as Sarah (Carly Zien), the fictionalized Glass, meets Biddle (Philip Goodwin) on her first day of labor. Lengthy retired from any official duties, Biddle stays busy with correspondence and the writing of his memoir, all whereas his well being precipitously wanes.
Sarah rapidly learns that being an efficient secretary means managing the mercurial grumpiness and failing psychological capacities of her boss whereas not insulting his lingering sense of dignity. After all she manages to get that finished, and because the play progresses the 2 develop a heat mutual respect and purposeful working relationship en path to a predictable sufficient conclusion.
What we’re to take from this story alongside the way in which stays unclear. Biddle recounts a lot of his illustrious profession and blueblood household historical past in lengthy speeches, whereas conflicts in Sarah’s life, like troubles together with her marriage and objectives, come up and dissipate with out affecting a lot of something. Glass’s level appears to be that this distinctive pairing finds energy within the unlikely ally of one another. Truthful sufficient, however such pat moralism struggles to maintain the play’s two-and-a-half-hours.
Along with director Jim Jack, Zien and Goodwin convey these thinly drawn characters to life nicely sufficient, however the relationship between the 2 doesn’t evolve as a lot because it shifts abruptly. In direction of the top of the opening act, Sarah lastly speaks up for herself in opposition to Biddle’s gruff badgering, at which level the wide-eyed choose backs down, shocked by his sudden respect for a secretary he had heretofore thought of so disposable. From then on out, the play appears an episodic exploration of an ageing choose, providing little to shock or compel.
“Making an attempt” is clearly a deeply private story of an essential time on this playwright’s life, however one thing is misplaced in translating that significance to George Avenue’s viewers. As a substitute of a transferring story of human heat that this play strives to be, we discover a acquainted paradigm flatly recycled.