Edmond Through April 13; Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; $16-$20. Art Square Theatre, cockroachtheatre.com.
Edmond is David Mamet’s story of a middle-class man who, having been told by a fortune teller that he’s out of place, destroys his life through an overnight search for sex that finds him launching racist diatribes, beating up a pimp/thief, murdering a young woman and winding up imprisoned. It uses shock and violence the way a petulant teenager might, as if to insist, “This is reality, man.” Cockroach Theatre has assembled a top-notch cast for its production and finds the comedy and brutality in this show, but whether or not that makes Mamet’s material worth your time is debatable.
Under the direction of Levi Fackrell, the play’s action moves quickly and deftly between locations and scenes, never lingering too long on one moment, the better to get caught up in Edmond’s quick descent. Within these brief scenes, specificity of character is vital. The women in this play do some amazing work, particular Tressa Bern, who plays three characters, each with specificity and commitment that feels real and unique. Melanie Ash has true desperation in her two “working girl” roles. Sarah Spraker has little to do as Edmond’s wife, but her second scene has a nice, steely resolve and a satisfying emotional jab at the end. Jamie Carvelli’s scene as a Peep Show Girl is the funniest in the whole play, and, as the waitress Glenna, her delight and fear in the face of Edmond is also well done.
The cast’s male segment is more uneven, but standouts include Alex Pink, excellent in multiple roles; Bryan Todd, who creates complete characters with smart physical and vocal choices; Shelton Bailey as a grand mission preacher; and Miles Morgan, who has a charismatic, forceful presence as a cardsharp and prisoner.
Still, the play is titled Edmond, and despite his deep commitment to the role, Joe Basso never quite makes me care about Edmond enough to see behind his rage and to value his yearning for connection. In the final scene, Edmond comes the closest to an actual conversation with an effortless free-flow of ideas with his cellmate (Morgan). This short conversation is meant to demonstrate the connection he’s wished for, but something between Basso and Morgan never completely clicks.