Liz on Theatre

'Trying' explores age, youth and points of history in poignant production

a9cfb2a825e2cd3525bd_GSP_Trying_096_72dpi.jpg
290cf3687458fa2b0fe9_GSP_Trying_092_300dpi.jpg
f5b83d611ed9ca9b4945_GSP_Trying_071_72dpi.jpg
658f70f22142199e9971_GSP_Trying_061_72dpi.jpg
f5a8f816ecf459fe06e0_GSP_Trying_050_72dpi.jpg
f3b71c49b28f055e1ec7_GSP_Trying_049_72dpi.jpg
7ac1f1eac473bc7532ca_GSP_Trying_048_72dpi.jpg
7c60a7c1d9bd0c5b3b51_GSP_Trying_020_72dpi.jpg
377d6a0c3762f28cf384_GSP_Trying_014_72dpi.jpg
a9cfb2a825e2cd3525bd_GSP_Trying_096_72dpi.jpg

‘Trying’ explores youth, age and points of history in poignant production

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – The George Street Playhouse presents an engrossing, two-character play based on the real life of Francis Biddle, former Attorney General.

Sign Up for E-News

Biddle, a Harvard educated lawyer, served under Franklin Roosevelt and later Harry Truman during the Nuremberg Tribunal. His memories expand in this taut, beautifully written account of his final year of life. His assistant is a young Canadian woman who has taken this part-time job in Washington, DC.

The playwright, Joanna McClelland Glass, is from Canada and, indeed, did work for Judge Biddle during his final days. The play is poignant and warm, pitting youth against age, male against female, past against present and Ivy League snobbery against public education. There’s plenty of opportunity for conflict during periods of sly, witty exchange, revealing a basic humanity and mutual admiration at the end.

Philip Goodwin and Carly Zien as Francis and Sarah are beautifully paired as they spar, come together and ultimately respect each other. The play takes us on a journey through Biddle’s days at Groton, the exclusive New England boys’ school, his Harvard experience and various appointments by Roosevelt. There are several references to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, which he opposed. We hear about the Martin Luther King assassination, Bobby Kennedy’s eulogy and other dramatic moments in history.

The writing is spot-on, clearly reflecting Biddle’s loss of power and prestige as he faces old age. Goodwin is uncanny in his portrayal of a man of dignity who is ultimately overcome by failing health and strength. Zien as Sarah vividly recreates her life in Saskatchewan, a sharp contrast to Biddle’s Ivy League world. Her marriage to an American and her pregnancy are touchstones, somewhat overwhelming to her employer. The playwright notes that Biddle had two regrets at this time in his life: the death of one son at a young age and the death of his father when he was just six years old.  

Jim Jack has directed the production with a superb and fluid sense of timing. Jason Sims’ set design clearly reflects the hayloft of a stable turned into a study, with beamed ceiling, large plate glass window depicting the changing seasons, a handsome Queen Anne desk, volumes of books and other touches. Lighting by Christopher J. Bailey, music and sound designed by Scott Killian and costumes by Esther Arroyo all establish an 1960’s era sense of place.

“Trying” runs through April 8 at the George Street Playhouse’s temporary location at 103 College Farm Road in New Brunswick. For tickets, call 732-246-7717 or visit GeorgeStreetPlayhouse.org.

Liz Keill reviews professional theatre in the New Jersey area, ranging from the McCarter Theatre in Princeton to Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn. In addition to writing for Tapinto.net, she does theatre analysis for HometowneTV in Summit. She holds a Bachelor's in Journalism from Penn State and a Master's in Communication from Syracuse University. Liz is a member of the American Theatre Critics Association, which holds seminars at regional theatres across the country as well as in New York City.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Verona/Cedar Grove

HMH Mountainside Medical Center Breaks Ground on Medical Office Building

July 22, 2018

MONTCLAIR/GLEN RIDGE, NJ - Construction is underway at the site of the new Mountainside Medical Center Office Building located at Hackensack Meridian Health Mountainside Medical Center.

Starting with a groundbreaking ceremony on July 10, township officials from Montclair and Glen Ridge, joined Mountainside leaders on the grounds of the former School of Nursing location at 1 Bay ...

Cedar Grove Police Blotter

July 8, 2018

July 2, 2018 – July 8, 2018

On July 3, 2018 at 7:22 a.m., Ptl. Kristian Schneider responded to a David Road address to take a report of a suspicious vehicle. The resident observed a black four door vehicle stop in front of her home at approximately 5:20 a.m. She noticed that both passenger side doors were open and then observed two black males walking from the area of her driveway. She ...

New Trolley System to Connect Downtown Paterson with Great Falls

July 21, 2018

PATERSON, NJ- Standing beside two diesel powered trolleys on the site that the Paterson Art Factory calls home on Tuesday, Mayor Andre Sayegh showed that he is wasting no time in moving ahead on efforts to make the Great Falls, and the area around it, the centerpiece of the city’s much anticipated resurgence.

Calling the Art Factory a “partner”, Sayegh offered his ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_c59c9acb1abc7cdb8c6a_mini_magick20180510-124227-5wdsnf

Mon, July 23, 9:00 AM

Sellitto Field, Verona

Verona Football 2018 Summer Camp

Sports

Mon, July 23, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_c59c9acb1abc7cdb8c6a_mini_magick20180510-124227-5wdsnf

Tue, July 24, 9:00 AM

Sellitto Field, Verona

Verona Football 2018 Summer Camp

Sports

Calling Local Artists!

July 17, 2018

The Township of Verona is looking to run some new events around town focused on the arts and would like to hear from all the amazing local talent we have here in Verona and the surrounding towns. Please send an email to stneale@veronanj.org if you would like to hear more and get involved.

LOCAL BUSINESSES: Please contact if interested in hosting an exhibit at your location.