Although a bit too f*@king speedy, RACE is still pretty f*@king good

Published on: April 15, 2013

Filled Under: Reviews

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Jason Priestley and Nigel Shawn Williams in RACE. Photo by David Hou.
After I saw the Canadian Stage production of David Mamet’s RACE on Friday, I reserved a copy of the play at the public library. The play is so fast-paced and so full of banter-y dialogue, I felt like I missed some of the stark Mamet insight. The pace of the play is the best and worst thing about it. No – scratch that – Nigel Shawn Williams is the best thing about RACE; the speed of the script is the second. The snappy exchanges and cuttingly flippant remarks are thrown back and forth like a tennis-match on speed. It’s great. All of the actors seem to be masters of their own tongues and each found their way through the dialogue in a way that would make Aaron Sorkin proud.
It works; until it doesn’t.

The quick, bouncy, often heated, exchanges are inherent in the script; Mamet clearly wrote for this kind of fast delivery. But there were times when it seemed like the pace of the dialogue was driving the play forward, and not the actual words themselves. There were moments when I wanted the pace to relax, where it could have relaxed, shown us something powerfully different with the characters, and then sped right up again.

But that’s the con of the show; the pros are (among others) that the acting was fab and the set design was amazing. Yes, Jason Priestly can carry his own on stage. No, he’s not as commanding of a presence as Nigel Shawn Williams, but few would be, and I thought Priestly embodied the typical Mamettian-male character with comfort and originality. Williams is amazing. From his commandeering voice to his hilariously scathing lines, he’s villainously cold, but you still root for him. Cara Ricketts sparkles as the legal associate with a mind of her own and Matthew Edison is appropriately pathetic as the man on trial for a heinous crime we’ve heard too much about as of late.

Debra Hanson’s stark and overwhelming set-design was beautiful. File cabinets that reached up to the heavens provided an intimidating backdrop for stark, colourless, masculine office furniture. It was pretty, it was effective and I loved looking at it just as much as I did watching the actors.

RACE is 100 minutes of snappy theatre fun and while I wish I could have soaked in all the dialogue while watching the play, I’m jazzed to read it and acquaint myself with the characters again.
All Mamet-motherf*@%ing 4 of them.

RACE is on at the Bluma Appel Theatre (27 Front St. E.() until May 5. For tix call: 416-368-3110 or click here.     $10 rush tix through the Canadian Stage Facebook pg! Click here and get ’em!

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