Andrew Scott is one of those actors who knows exactly what tools he has at his disposal and just how to use them. There’s a choreographic quality to every gesture, every eked out vowel and arched eyebrow. With the right material, he can be mesmeric.
Here, Scott and David Dawson play Langley and Homer Collyer, a pair of wealthy, reclusive real-life New Yorkers who lived a life of increasingly insular squalor in a dilapidated brownstone during the early part of the 20th century. Richard Greenberg’s play is something of a slow burner and the first half is fairly sluggish, frustratingly so. It’s the kind of thing that only reveals itself slowly, with the brothers’ oddly tender and increasingly dependent relationship bringing to mind everything from Waiting for Godot to Rain Man to Robert Holman’s A Breakfast of Eels. The interplay between them is fascinating, their disdain for the outside world, their little frictions; it’s like watching Niles and Frasier Crane magnified and broken.
Simon Evans’ production has the feel of an event about it. It takes place in the former Central St Martins building, the intimate space reached by winding concrete stairs. More could probably have been made of the room and the cluttered design doesn’t really give you a sense of the extent of the brothers’ hoarding habits, but it’s a joy to watch actors of this quality in such close quarters, and good as Scott is, it’s Dawson’s masterful performance, delicate, controlled yet potent, which really impresses.