Review: EDMOND

by Lynn on November 9, 2015

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Storefront Theatre, 955 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Ont.

Written by David Mamet
Directed by Benjamin Blais
Set by Bronwen Lily
Costumes by Holly Lloyd
Lighting by Melissa Joakim
Sound and Composition by Dimitar Pentchev
Drummer, Carter Hayden
Movement Choreographer, Ashleigh Powell
Cast: Pauline Bedarida
Amanda Cordner
Christef Desir
Randel D’Souza
Matthew Gouveia
Gabriel Hamilton-Twiss
Jeff Hanson

A grab-you-by-the-throat production of Mamet’s searing play about a man whose life is unravelling.

The Story. Edmond has his fortune read and it changes his life. He goes home to his wife and says that he is leaving her. She does not interest him spiritually or sexually. She is aghast. She throws him out. He wanders the streets of New York City and spirals down a sink hole in which he has been duped, cheated, threatened, robbed, seduced and riled to such an extent he does something drastic and pays the consequences.

The Production. Director Benjamin Blais has populated the postage stamp-sized stage with the teaming multi-cultural population of New York City. Movement Choreographer, Ashleigh Powell moves the cast at break-neck speed so that they rush, bustle, push and bump into each other simulating the frantic movement of the population as they swirl around Edmond. Drummer Carter Hayden provides the noise, crash and cacophony of the city as well.

To add the sense of claustrophobia to the mix, designer Bronwen Lily has panels of black material jutting into the playing space from the sides. The playing space is tight. Set pieces are efficiently used to denote a place, a bar, pub, etc. The movement of the population is fast. As a result, the sense of danger is everywhere. Costume designer Holly Lloyd has dressed the cast so precisely we know instantly who these people are. Edmond stumbles and bumbles his way through this new and sinister world, supposedly trying to experience new things, but really trying to find his way.

In David Mamet’s text in the first scene Edmond is having his palm read by a fortune teller who tells him, among other things, that he is not in the right place. This is the impetus he needs to leave his wife and find his place.

In Benjamin Blais’ production there is no fortune teller. We hear a recorded voice (Karen Knox) pronounce Edmond’s fortune. The voice in the void is not as focusing as an actual fortune teller telling Edmond to his face, but it is enough for Edmond to act and progress the play.

As Edmond, Tim Walker is rumpled in his suit and tie. The suit and tie give the suggestion of success but not the reality of it. At times Walker is cherub-like and others, dangerous. This is a fine performance of a man going on an emotional rollercoaster. Edmond is buffeted through crowds and an underground social system that is totally foreign to him and threatening. He is eager for physical connection and pays through the nose for it. With every discovery, every new person Edmond meets and cheats him, or feels sorry for him, Walker realizes the subtle reactions, the slow descent into a world over which Edmond has no control. It’s a performance full of heart, grit, sweat, nuance, despair and finally acceptance. Terrific work.

The accomplished cast portray characters that might appear in only a moment, but they are full-bodied and detailed in that moment. An accent, an attitude, body language speaks volumes.

Comment. Edmond was written in 1982 (when it is set) and does not have the usual jump-cut, stammer language so frequent in many of his other plays. But Mamet is a master at creating characters who drive the system and others who are swallowed up by it. Edmond is the latter. His decent is fast and furious in Benjamin Blais’ energy-popping production. Another gripping production from The Storefront Arts Initiative.

Presented by The Storefront Arts Initiative.

Opened: Nov. 6, 2015.
Closes-Nov. 22, 2015
Cast: 12; 7 men, 5 women
Running Time: 90 minutes.

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1 Eric Petersen November 10, 2015 at 3:35 am

I try not to be an internet pedant, but I will point out in your second-to-last sentence, you probably mean descent not decent, which changes the meaning considerably.