Prisoner of Second Avenue Character Descriptions
Since Mel Edison has adopted the traditional role of head of the household, his ego takes a major blow when he loses his job and can no longer support himself and his wife. At that point, the tensions that he has lived with for six years become overwhelming and cause him to harbor paranoid notions that he is the victim of a conspiracy to undermine the working class in the United States. He tries to maintain his sanity by venting his emotions and lashing out to those closest to him, including his wife and his neighbors. His inability to cope with the pressures he faces causes a mental breakdown. Simon glosses over the details behind his recovery but suggests that his departure from corporate America helps to restore his self-esteem and his sanity. He reveals the magnanimous side of his nature when he is ready to forgive his neighbor for her slanderous assault on Edna, but when he is humiliated a second time by her, his need for revenge overtakes his humanity, and he plots her destruction.
Auditions: Tuesday, February 26, at 7 p.m. & Thursday, February 28, at 7 p.m.
6 Performances April 26-29 & May 4-6
Edna Edison is a loving, supportive wife whose main concern is her husband's welfare. She has adopted a traditional role in marriage, taking care of the household while her husband works outside of the home. When he becomes agitated about their living conditions, she tries to offer alternatives that she thinks will benefit both of them and continually tries to revitalize his confidence in himself. She is not a dishrag, however. When Mel gets verbally abusive, she stands her ground, insisting that he treat her with respect. When Edna is forced to switch roles with Mel, she tries to devote herself to her job while maintaining her steadfast support of her husband. She rushes home to prepare his lunch and check up on his emotional state, running herself ragged in the process. As a result, she experiences the same level of frustration as Mel has endured and so ends up collaborating with his plans for vengeance by the end of the play.
Harry Edison, Mel's older brother, generously offers to pay for Mel's therapy, even amid the protests of his sisters who are worried about how long it will take to cure him. Harry is confident of his own judgment that Mel has no business sense and so initially refuses to give him money for a summer camp. Yet his loyalty to his brother eventually supersedes his concerns, and he decides to give the money unconditionally. Simon suggests that Harry could be motivated by his desire to be the favorite in the family, a position, he claims, he never achieved.
Jessie Edison criticizes her brother Mel but insists that, since he is the baby of the family, his behavior must be excused. She does not want to think about the implications of his present behavior and tries to comfort Mel when he arrives at the apartment. Her tears betray her concerns about him, yet she would rather go shopping than face the reality of his situation.
Pauline Edison defends her brother Mel against her sisters' attacks. She has always found excuses for his behavior. She also seems more grounded in reality than her two sisters, consistently correcting their memories about him.
Pearl Edison is the most practical sister and tries to control all of her siblings, insisting to Edna, "We just want to do the right thing."
Prisoner of Second Avenue
April 27-29 & May 4-6
Shows at 8 p.m. on Friday & Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday
Written by: Neil Simon Directed by: Mike Moran
The story revolves around the escalating problems of a middle-aged couple living on Second Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. Mel Edison, the main character, has just lost his job after many years and now has to cope with being unemployed at middle age, during an economic recession. The action occurs during an intense summer heat wave and a prolonged garbage strike, which just exacerbates Edison's plight to no end as he and his wife Edna deal with noisy neighbors, loud sounds emanating from Manhattan streets up to their apartment and even a burglary of their apartment during broad daylight. Mel eventually suffers a nervous breakdown from the whole affair, and it is up to the loving care of his brother Harry, his sisters and Edna to bring Mel back to a firm reality.