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Edmond
at C (Venue 34), Edinburgh


Brendan O'Neill


David Mamet's Edmond begins with the play's namesake telling his wife, 'I'm going out.'

'Bring me back some cigarettes,' she says. 'No', says Edmond, 'I'm going out and I'm not coming back.' He leaves and descends into drunken kerb-crawling and gambling around the backstreets of New York, and by the end of the play has brutally stabbed a 'filthy coon', assaulted an innocent woman, murdered a wannabe actress who is nothing but a 'fucking waitress', been arrested for attempted rape, and been forced into oral sex by his cellmate in prison. Cheery Mamet at his best.

The most disturbing thing about Mamet's psychological thriller is its cool, deadpan nature. The characters are a motley crue, from Edmond's quiet, unassuming racism and misogyny, to the thief who promises to take Edmond to a whore and then threatens to kill him with a knife. But rarely do the characters even raise their voices, instead talking about 'niggers', 'whores', 'bitches' as if they were talking about the weather. It is only when Edmond stabs the black man who promised him a prostitute and murders the wannabe actress that he loses his patience. He screams at them as he drives the knife in, spittle flying out of the actor's mouth as his face turns bright red, seeing them as representative of everything that is wrong with the world. 'Is that the kind of fucking world you wanna live in?' he screams as he murders the woman, whose only crime is to claim to be an actress when in fact she's a waitress.

This is a superb, breathtaking production of one of Mamet's finest plays. The Benet Catty theatre group perfectly captures the violence and darkness of New York's underworld and the characters' isolation from one another as they pass through it. Even the fight scenes and sex scenes are done from a distance. When Edmond is battered by two street gamblers, he is lying on one side of the stage reeling from the gamblers' blows, who are on the other side of the stage punching and kicking thin air. Similarly, the peepshow girl who tells Edmond to 'get his dick out' sits on the opposite side of the stage, both characters facing the audience rather than each other, illustrating Edmond's isolation from his surroundings and his declining grip on reality.

One of the most moving scenes is when Edmond is speaking to his cellmate towards the end of the play, his deadpan voice now reduced to a whisper so that the audience can barely hear him, and the 'fucking waitress' that he murdered appears at the back of the stage, subtly mimicking Edmond's movements as he rocks back and forth. It is a rare glimpse of humanity in a disturbing play, a projection of Edmond's regret at the havoc he has wreaked since walking out on his wife. Forget American Psycho. For a portrait of one man's descent into madness and depravity go to see Edmond.


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