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Saturday, March 03, 2012

RACE - No Shades of Grey

I did the kid swap with Mark in the Westmount parking lot so that I could make it to the Theatre Yes production of David Mamet's RACE tonight. I had read a little about the play when it was on Broadway a few years ago and thought that the premise sounded intriguing so I was excited to see it was coming up. I think Mamet is always a courageous choice as the dialogue is tricky and this piece would be especially so because of the specific requirements of the cast. Although the play took a few minutes to grab me, once I was in, I was in. This production is a nice solid piece of work, anchored brilliantly by Michael Peng. The rest of the cast turn in solid performances, but he clearly seems most at home with the complexity of Mamet's dialogue. So many things impressed me about this piece of theatre. Brian Bast's set and costumes are perfect (and I am not just saying that because Brian and I went to high school together). It is amazing how transformed the Catalyst is. It was hard to believe it was the same space that I have seen countless Fringe shows in. But beyond that, this was a production that made me think.

On the drive home I did a lot of thinking about how I feel about some of the universals explored by the play. I have to say explored because Mamet is not easy on his audience. He does not tell you any of the solutions. He is much better at drawing attention to the problems and a pat solution is not going to cut it in his world. It's rather like the real world. Although the play is clearly American and the race issues are a somewhat different there, we have situations in Canada where the same kinds of prejudice impact our decisions and our beliefs. I do not believe that anyone is entirely without prejudice. We are all shaped by things we have lived through and what we have been taught and we have all felt judged based on where we come from and what we look like. How we deal with those attitudes, both our own and those of others, varies from person to person. Throw in a court case where the guilt of a client is up in the air and race is an issue and you have a compelling piece of theatre.

*number 8 in my 2012 theatre goal

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