TRYING’s magnificent success


After thirty-six productions around the United States, Joanna McClelland Glass' play, Trying, arrived at Burbank's Colony Theatre for a four week run, commencing August 11. You do not want to miss this one!

It stars Alan Mandell in a tour de force as the aging former U.S. Attorney General, Francis Biddle who hires as his secretary-assistant Sarah Schorr, played beautifully by Rebecca Mozo. Both bring an air of certainty, the proper acting abilities, the sensitivity toward their respective characters so seldom seen in theater today. For this writer, it was witnessing, once again, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in person, onstage.

Mr. Mandell moves, speaks and flutters his hands about with gestures so real, so memorable. Ms. Mozo crosses the stage, moving in all directions, yet keeps that Canadian stalwart demeanor throughout, helping us realize that she, unlike the many others before her, will see her job to the end, despite this raw curmudgeon for whom she now works.

Fine characterization aside, the play's strength lies in Glass' superb script. Clearly autobiographical, Glass actually worked with Biddle for a time. Her play captures his bossy and bullying ways; always seeking the right words in the right order – no split infinitives allowed. "One doesn't read voraciously; one eats voraciously and reads voluminously," Biddle snarls at Schorr. In another moment he reminds her that, "My former secretary was so surly, it caused the flies to leave the room!" And, when all appears to be lost, he states, "I may be an invalid, but I am not totally invalid." There is lots of word play throughout; interesting give and take between the principals; dialogue that is intelligent and perceptive – always keeping the action moving forward during the plays six scenes.

Cameron Watson's expert direction has our hero rise at the correct time and sit or lie down at the correct time, showing us his poor health and rapidly weakening condition. Schorr's movements about the office of Biddle, show her growing confidence in her ability to help keep Biddle's accounts and records in order.  We all profit by Victoria Profitt's set of an office in disrepair, showing books and papers scatted everywhere and the remnants of a fire caused by the carelessness of a previous secretary that still distresses Biddle. Jared Sayeg's lighting could not be better for it reflects the many moods depicted during the action of the play.

You will be taken by Jeffrey Schoenberg's handsome costumes. Ms. Mozo's flashy plaid coat as she arrives for her first day of work is so reminiscent of the late 60's, the play's time and setting.  All her clothing changes add drama to everything else on stage. Mr.. Biddle's propriety is evident in every wardrobe change he effects.

The combination of crisp dialogue, creative direction, excellent  costuming, and two actors who inhabit their roles so beautifully make Trying succeed magnificently.  You will exit the theater enriched, exalted and ennobled…I guarantee it!

Trying  by Joanna McClelland Glass    Colony Theatre   555 North Third Street   Burbank 91502   Tel. 818-558-7000

Plays Friday & Saturday @ 8:00 p.m.; Sunday @ 2:00 & 7:00 p.m.. Thursday-August 30 & September 6 @ 8:00 p.m.

Tickets: $37 – $42 (students & seniors discounts available.)