Arts Club Theatre Company
3 April - 3 May 2003
Reviewer: Erin Jane
Shoes is a well-articulated play about cancer, gambling and
family, and somehow playwright Adam Pettle infuses all this with humour
(yes, including one or two passable cancer jokes). Of course, Pettle’s
history with cancer – as outlined in the program – clearly
makes it all very acceptable. Also, interestingly enough, the play started
as a writing exercise in one of Pettle’s classes in 1997, and was
then expanded and developed into what I saw performed at the Granville
Island Stage this last Wednesday.
While I found Zadie’s
Shoes to be an altogether amusing play, what impressed me
the most was the set design, the scene changes and the acting talent.
As I took my seat, I took note of the set: bleachers at a horse race.
Quite large, immovable, and somewhat confusing, since I found myself wondering
how an entire play could be performed around such a conspicuous set. Yet
I was pleasantly surprised as the first scene started, and it was a bedroom
scene; only a very small part of the play actually takes place at a horse
race, but the bleachers lingering in the background reinforces the pressure
one feels in sympathy for the man trying to win back a substantial amount
of money for his wife’s therapeutic trip to Mexico.
Camyar Chai (playing gambler Benjamin) plays a convincingly desperate
character throughout, and was perhaps the only one I felt genuine concern
for, there was very little development with the other characters. The
“three sisters” motif is used here seemingly superfluously
since, other than Ruth (Benjamin’s sick wife), the other two sisters
do not really have much to offer the central focus which seems to be one
man’s struggle with a gambling problem and the Jewish faith. Also,
a sub-plot of a curling competition comes as very under-developed, and
is distracting at best.
of Zadie’s few shortcomings in terms of plot, the overall performance
was well done. Scene changes were particularly delightful; walls glided
onto the stage soundlessly and lights dimmed to orange behind windows
with Venetian blinds. Go see Zadie’s Shoes until May 3, it is rather
quirky and very well performed.
Erin L. Jane