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A razzle 'Dazzle'

March 30, 2002

Young Chang

Almost everyone knows a Langley or Homer Collyer, said actor Matt

Roth.

The ones whose shutters are always closed, who venture out only after

dark, who keep their neighbors guessing as to why they're so peculiar.

Roth, who plays Homer in Richard Greenberg's "The Dazzle," once knew

such eccentrics. He had a paper route as a kid and biked around every

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month collecting fees.

"There was always a house or two that you didn't know what went on in

that house," Roth said. "You didn't want to go to the door and there's

all this stuff around the house."

"The Dazzle," which runs at South Coast Repertory through April 26,

centers around a pair of odd brothers inspired by two real-life men also

known as "America's most famous eccentrics."

The Collyer brothers are the focus of this three-actor play, but the

characters are only loosely based on the real duo who lived in New York

during the first half of the 20th century.

Roth's Homer spends most his energy making sure that his

pianist-brother Langley (played by JD Cullum) doesn't waste the family

money.

Homer is "entirely wrapped up in his brother, he's stifled in his

environment," Roth said. "He has to create ways to sort of survive that

and maintain a shred of sanity."

Langley is completely dependent on Homer for everything from his

finances to his personal upkeep. He also often falls into a state --

which explains the title, "The Dazzle" -- where he fixates and is dazzled

by things as small as a strand of thread.

"When he totally focuses on one small, minute aspect of his world,"

said director Mark Rucker. "I think that's an intense experience for

him."

But when a wealthy young socialite (played by Susannah Schulman) in

love with Langley enters both of their lives, she wants to change the

brothers' ways.

Starting with some cleanup.

Greenberg's work, which is the last to be presented on the small

Second Stage before SCR goes dark for renovations and expansions, takes

place in a 5th Avenue New York mansion that is cluttered and stacked with

at least two of everything.

Set designer Darcy Scanlin portrays the real Collyers' disposophobia,

an obsessive-compulsive disorder where you hoard things, in abstract

ways. There are 10 lamps in the room Scanlin has designed, two large

pianos, multiple Oriental rugs that meld into each other and stacks of

newspapers.

History has it that the brothers were recluses who kept the public

wondering about whether Homer was even alive and about why Langley went

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