Sunday, May 25, 2008
One critic described Alan Mandell's turn in "Trying" at the Colony Theater as "one of the five greatest performances you'll see in your lifetime." I have to think about my list of great performances, but I agree Mandell's is right up there.
"Trying" is based on playwright Joanna McClelland Glass' experience as Francis Biddle's secretary in the last year of his life. Biddle was FDR's Attorney General from 1941 to 1945 and in 1946 President Truman appointed him to be Chief American Judge of the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials.
Set in 1967, an 82-year old Biddle hires a young secretary to work in his office over his garage. Recognizing his life was coming to an end, Biddle acknowledges that he exists between "lucidity and senility."
A proud man -- a "Main Line Philadelphia" Biddle whose family came to the colonies from England in 1681-- Biddle is set in his ways, set in his routines and horrified by the split infinitive.
His young secretary struggles to be of assistance and is determined not to run away with her tail between her legs, either.
Mandell brings to life a man that you can adore as a person while hate what they are saying at the same time.