Jason Priestley holds court in the Toronto premiere of Mamet's provocative legal drama

Presented by Canadian Stage
Written by David Mamet
Directed by Daniel Brooks

Jason Priestley in RACE. Photo by David Hou.

Canadian-born actor and director Jason Priestley (Beverley Hills, 90210, Call Me Fitz) is racking up the headlines this spring as he returns to the stage (in his first live theatre role since 2000) for Canadian Stage's Toronto premiere of David Mamet's RACE, now playing at the Bluma Appel Theatre.

The play follows the case of Charles Strickland (Matthew Edison), a rich white man who has been accused of raping a young black woman. He approaches a firm run by two of the best lawyers in town, one white and one black: Jack Lawson (Priestley) and his partner Henry Brown (Nigel Shawn Williams), who agree to defend him, with the help of Susan, (Cara Ricketts), a whip-smart rookie attorney (also black). But due to the racial and sexual nature of the case, winning could hurt them more than losing, and mounting internal tensions threaten to bring down the whole operation.

At approximately 90 minutes with no intermission, the tight production features a simple yet authoritative set by Debra Hanson, lighting by Kimberly Purtell, and no sound design whatsoever (Mamet's orders). Director Daniel Brooks gets powerful performances out of this knock-out cast: fans of the mild-mannered Priestley will be happy to hear that he thrives on stage as the tough-skinned Jack Lawson; Williams is on fire in the role of Henry Brown, delivering many of the show's laugh-out-loud funny and vicious one-liners; Ricketts gives them a run for their money as the determined Susan; and Strickland does a fine job playing the conflicted "victim."

While it takes a few minutes to really pull you in, Mamet's jarring, politically incorrect script is full of unexpected twists and turns. The theme of race is still alarmingly relevant in a post-Obama world, forcing us to confront the realities of how the subject affects our world view. Canadian Stage has another hit on their hands with this one.

Race runs until May 5 at the Bluma Appel Theatre. Visit canadianstage.com for more information and to buy tickets.

Show Dates: 
Sun, 2013-04-07 - Sun, 2013-05-05
Our rating:



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.