Any David Mamet play is worth seeing, and with Edmond the American playwright shows his very darkest vision of an amoral society.
Edmond starts out as a middle class, middle-aged New Yorker who, bored with his wife, pops out to the shops one night and never comes back. His voyage for truth and meaning, starting with the hunt for good sex, leads him through an underbelly of urban experiences.
Two dozen sharp scenes take our na? anti-hero through brothels and bars, to a night with a waitress aspiring to act, through crime, assault and murder, prison and finally homosexual rape. As he sheds his social restraint, his racism, misogyny and homophobia are let loose -“ and yet still somehow we empathise with the deluded, questing Edmond.
Albedo Theatre appropriately stages this voyage of a Paradise Lost within a metallic claustraphobic box of a set. Dressed with street signs suggesting a New York steamy with ethical decay, the staging, sound and lighting show high production standards.
David Terry plays Edmond suitably as a blank page, becoming more street savvy and proactive, and yet philosophising about what is cause and effect in human and civic behavour -“ even as he plunges the dagger in. By the end he kisses his black rapist good night and gazes out at us from his prison cell, still mouthing his vapid philosophising but lyrical now in the absence of answers or ethics.
Yet there is something missing in Craig Ilott’s direction and this generally competent ensemble which brings alive the lost scum of New York.
Mamet wrote Edmond in 1982, just before he won global acclaim for his later play Glengarry Glen Ross, about the brutality implicit in the ethos of the American dream. As a playwright and filmmaker Mamet is famous for capturing that distinctive, almost poetic argot of American speech, a rhythmic mix of profanity, interruption and exclamation, of yearning behind the armour.
You need to do much more than just a good accent. Ilott’s ensemble rarely achieves the staccato, bullet paced zing required to deliver Mamet’s dialogue and the pace of the production sags just as the nightmare should sweep us along.
The ensemble sports some good humour and pathos in vignettes about life’s strugglers. Hopefully Mamet’s words will really take off after opening night and make this Edmond a play which must be seen.
Edmond from Alfredo Theatre is at the Downstairs Theatre, Seymour Centre, until September 18.