Theatre (Vancouver Fringe) review: Romance finds the right balance in its absurdity

Despite having read the script and being warned at every turn about the Queer Arts Society production of Romance, the political incorrectness of David Mamet’s Romance is still shocking.  Finding myself cringing as if afflicted by an uncontrollable tic for its 90 minutes, I’d endure its almost epileptic inducing fervour just to see Brian Hinson’s performance again.

The Vancouver Queer Arts Society presents David Mamet's RomanceIn Mamet’s invective laden one-act, homosexuality, religion, Jews, and even the Middle East get equally rough treatment from Mamet as he holds up a candle to our insecurities and the destructive nature of some of our most primal phobias.

Set in the courtroom during a trial that we never come to find out its true nature, this capable cast is lead by Brian Hinson as a good-old-boy judge that goes over the deep end after losing track of when he last took his allergy medication.  Always in control, Hinson is perfectly balanced in the absurdity of the proceedings, but with a foot firmly placed in reality.

In fact, it is the ability of much of this cast to find that footing in reality that makes it successful with David C Jones, Bert Steinmanis and Chris Robson easily finding their balance.  Less succesful though is Wolfgang Schmidt as the object of many of the other men’s affections who finds himself struggling against his character’s affectations.  Jose Os as The Baliff may get little to say, but what little Mamet gives him is always done with purpose.

Director Adam Henderson’s tight direction puts the show on a blistering fast pace that never lets up, with a precision that would melt the heart of even the toughest of drill sergeants.

Not for the weak of heart, Romance leaves few politically incorrect stones left unturned and sometimes even smashes them up against your head.

4 Out of 5 StarsRomance
Part of the 2012 Vancouver International Fringe Festival
CBC Studio, 700 Hamilton Street
7 – 15 September 2012

Visit http://www.vancouverfringe.com for exact showtimes and tickets.

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