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The Prisoner of Second Avenue - Theatre Review

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by Jenny Pickett (subscribe)
I enjoy making the most of life's experiences, exploring what Adelaide has to offer and sharing my experiences and discoveries with others via WeekendNotes!
Event: -
Batten down the hatches for a storm of human emotions
The Marion Cultural Centre, Domain Theatre, Oaklands Park, Galleon Theatre Group, Neil Simon, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Kym Clayton, Andrew Clark, Saron Malujlo, Harry Dewar, Ashleigh Merriel, Anita Canala, Leanne Robinson, Manhattan
(image supplied)

The Prisoner of Second Avenue is a dark comedy written by Neil Simon - it first premiered as a play in 1971 and was released in 1975 as a movie, starring Jack Lemmon and Anne Bancroft. Galleon Theatre Group's production of The Prisoner of Second Avenue runs from 24 October 2019 until 2 November 2019. Directed by Kym Clayton, authenticity abounds and can be attributed to each character's Upper East Side dialect, mannerisms, hair style and costume. Sound effects also play a starring roll - Sean Smith has masterfully created realistic sound effects which further enhance the performance and set, such as sounds of bumper to bumper traffic below (complete with the honking horns of impatient drivers), barking of neighbourhood dogs and disgruntled neighbours banging on walls.


PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE opens NEXT WEEK !!!! Come along and share in the heartache and laughs of life in 1970's new York !

The Prisoner of Second Avenue is set in the Upper East Side 14th floor apartment of Mel Edison (Andrew Clark) and Edna Edison (Sharon Malujlo). Mel is spiraling into severe anxiety and depression as he battles to hang onto his job which is under threat due to the financial crisis/recession of the 1970s. Mel and Edna's neighbours only add to Mel's stress - his immediate neighbours are air stewardesses who party hard on their days off and the upstairs neighbour is not much better. Things don't get any better as Mel advises Edna he was made redundant some weeks ago and has been wiling away his days at the park, until it's time to go home.

Close to being broke, Mel is hospitalised due to a nervous breakdown and Edna works on a plan to get their lives and finances back on track. This plan involves Mel's siblings: eldest brother Harry (Harry Dewar) and sisters, Pearl (Ashleigh Merriel), Pauline (Anita Canala) and Jessie (Leanne Robinson).

Edna's plan is to relocate Mel and herself to a summer camp and to do this, she requires $25,000 as a down payment. Mel's siblings do not support her plan (especially Pauline) and make their opposition clearly evident to Edna. A family meeting is held (without) Edna and Mel's siblings determine the $25,000 would be better off spent on Mel's medical treatment.

Act 2 sees Mel back from hospital and much more relaxed (but extremely bored) - pacing around, comparing his apartment to a prison (hence the title The Prisoner of Second Avenue).

The previously stoic and tolerant Edna arrives home for lunch before returning to work and finally loses it with Mel. Now they're both in a similar state and dependent on valium to get them through their days. Harry returns to Mel and Edna's home (without his sisters) and advises he will be donating the $25,000 to Mel and Edna so they can escape Second Avenue and purchase and live in the summer camp.

What I will say about Kym Clayton's choice of play is its dialogue and setting is still heartbreakingly relevant to this day - it is now very rare to find a person who does not have a family member/loved one affected by mental illness, job loss and financial stress. Watching the script unfold and with tables turned to Edna being the one suffering, brought these issues into painfully crystal clear focus.

Thank you to Director Kym Clayton and cast and crew of Galleon Theatre Group for delivering yet another thought-provoking and entertaining production.
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Why? The Prisoner of Second Avenue was written by Neil Simon - even though it first premiered as a play in 1971 and a movie in 1975, its subject matter remains current to this day
When: Thursday 24/10/2019 - Saturday 02/11/2019
Phone: 8375 6855 (Domain Theatre - Marion Cultural Centre Box Office)
Where: Domain Theatre (Marion Cultural Centre, Oaklands Park)
Cost: $27/adult / $23/concession (pensioner & Seniors Card holders) - purchase online or by email, phone or in person at Domain Box Office
Your Comment
It's good to see these old classics enduring.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|7970) 283 days ago
Sounds very entertaining Jenny.
by May Cross (score: 3|6968) 284 days ago
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