The Old Neighborhood
Colin Stinton puts in a confident performance as Bobby, a man who returns to his hometown of Chicago to confront his past.
The play is split into three short scenes with Bobby appearing in all three. The first scene titled ‘The Disappearance of the Jews’ is set in a hotel room in Chicago where Bobby discusses his teenage days with his old school chum Joey, played brilliantly by Linal Haft. This for me is the best of the three scenes as it is both very funny and touching with both men discussing their good old days. The wonderful facial features of Linal Haft are a dream and his comic timing is perfect.
The second scene is titled ‘Jolly’ and is set in the home of Bobby’s sister. This is the longest scene and is mainly dominated by Zoe Wanamaker as ‘Jolly’. Zoe yet again puts in a fine performance on the London stage with great flair and presence. In this scene Jolly and Bobby discuss how their mother treated them when they were young. They were the blacksheep of the family, which seems to have effected Jolly quite a lot in her adult life. Her husband Carl played by Vincent Marzello is very understanding and supportive, but it is Bobby whom she is most able to relate to.
The third scene, and the shortest, titled ‘Deeney’ is set in a restaurant. Here Bobby meets up with an old flame who now has a successful job in cosmetics. Deeny, who offers Bobby valued advice, is played compassionately by Diana Quick, who was last seen in the West End in ‘Kindertransport’ at the Vaudeville theatre.
This play received mixed reviews from the popular press: SHAUN USHER of THE DAILY MAIL says, "Zoe Wanamaker is outstanding as the sister, racked by rage and remembered resentments. " ROBERT GORE-LANGTON of THE DAILY EXPRESS was not too impressed saying "A pointless stroll up memory lane. Call this a play? David Mamet’s sepia-tinted American-Jewish drama lasts just over an hour. And in three short, interleaved scenes it dumps on stage a cartload of regret and poignancy before driving off without bothering to exchange even the most basic details with its audience." " NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD says, "The Old Neighbourhood has the eerie compulsion of a smudged, faded photograph which stealthily sharpens into the clarity of revelation. What an interesting wealth of sadness David Mamet unfolds in this enthralling jostle of memories and close encounters."
Lasting only 1 hour and 15 minutes, ‘The Old Neighborhood’ is a fine play that is brilliantly acted and is certainly worth seeing.