‘Clutter’ entertains with visual filthy ick and sweet brotherly shtick!
|MadKap Productions presents|
|Clutter: The True Story of the Collyer Brothers
Who Never Threw Anything Out
Review by Katy Walsh
I’m an obsessive compulsive minimalist. I don’t like clutter! I have no collections. I discard junk with a garbage sensibility. My friends and family don’t strive for the same un-adornment. Usually, their daily life choices don’t effect me. But, their true hoarding nature becomes troublesome when I’m helping them move. I threw out seven jars of pickle relish from my sister Jenny’s refrigerator. My friend Sue had both her expansive Precious Moments and teddy bear collections and no boxes. But the worst was Madame X. Her floor was littered with dirty clothes, magazines, takeout plastic utensils and various unwanted debris. X is the kind of person who buys new underwear instead of doing laundry. As I was *raking* her house, I kept trying to grasp how someone could live with all that crap.
MadKap Productions presents the Midwest premiere of Clutter: The True Story of the Collyer Brothers Who Never Threw Anything Out. In 1947, an anonymous tip reports the death of Homer Collyer. The police enter the Fifth Avenue mansion and find the body. They also find tons of junk! Homer and his brother Langley have accumulated a houseful of rubbish. The eccentric duo stockpiled their home with newspapers, pianos, dressmaking dummies, a Model T and other lifelong memorabilia. Homer’s death has brought a hoarding intervention and a murder investigation. Where is Langley? Two brothers on the police force sort through the lives of two recluse brothers. Clutter looks for brotherly love underneath all the other crap.
Playwright Mark Saltzman took a quirky true story, added more brothers and penned a play. Saltzman parallels the dysfunction of two hoarders with two cops. He illustrates the Collyers‘ relationship with flashback scenes. Saltzman then connects it to the present day angst between an established detective and his former POW brother. The intent fascinates. The execution just scratches the surface. Saltzman keeps both storylines fairly simplistic. The drama is resolved in a sitcom-esque neat package. Under the direction of Wayne Mell, scene transitions go to black with a prolonged hesitation. It makes for some choppy pacing. Still, the ensemble does a fine job of recreating the colorful, scrappy tale. In particular, the brothers, Andrew J. Pond (Langley) and Edward Kuffert (Homer) put a little whimsy in their nonconformist behavior. Pond delights with a childlike zest. His brother makes big and small gestures profound. A blustering Kuffert pockets a stranger’s gum wrapper. It’s an a-ha moment of the peculiarities of wealthy folks.
Certainly, the focal point of this story is the jumbled mess on stage. Scenic Designer Andrei Onegin and Props Designer Mary O’Dowd have created a hoarder’s paradise. Wow! It’s like the Brown Elephant Thrift Store squished into a studio apartment! The initial visual is gasp-worthy. Overall, Clutter entertains with visual filthy ick and sweet brotherly shtick!
Clutter continues through March 11th at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm. Tickets are $30-$40, and are available by phone (773-404-7336) or online at Tix.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at MadKapProductions.com. (Running time: one hour and fifty minutes, which includes one intermission)
Photos by Peter Coombs
behind the scenes
Wayne Mell (director); Bob Boxer (sound); Matthew R. Godlewski (lighting); Bill Morey (costumes); Mary O’Dowd (props); Andrei Onegin (set design); Wendy Kaplan (producer); Cate Anderson (stage manager); Peter Coombs (photos);