David Mamet’s 14-year-oldplay “Edmond” may lack the wit of his “Speed-the-plow” and the power of “Glengarry Glen Ross,” but in this new production by the Atlantic Theater Company, David Rasche gives a take-no-prisoners performance in the title role that realizes everything the text has to offer and then some.
Rasche plays your basic white-guyin-a-suit who, after repressing his true feelings and desires for 37 years, leaves his joyless marriage and heads into the Manhattan night looking for his rightful place in the world. Or some inexpensive sex. He manages, after a fashion, to find both. Along the way, the character spouts a lot of racist and sexist platitudes and some philosophical trash, while negotiating endlessly with a parade of pimps and prostitutes who he feels are overcharging him. His loins may be bursting, but time and again his shopping instincts overrule his lust.
The play has some typical funfulled Mamet moments, as when Edmond insists to his new female friend that she is really a waitress, since she doesn’t get paid for her acting but she does for her acting but she does for her waitressing. But for the most part there is little to indicate that this dolt’s search for meaning would be of much interest to anyone were it not so fascinating to Rasche. He reacts to every bit of revelation as if he were Saul on the road to Damascus. And when Edmond finds a moment of repose, Rasche radiates his happiness like Buddha with a winning lottery ticket.
Rasche is not alone in making the resurection of “Edmond” worthwhile. The strong supporting cast, uniformly well disciplined in the rhythms of Mametspeak (he cofounded the Atlantic) includes standouts Mary McCann and Isiah Whitlock Jr. as two of the more serious romantic interests in Edmond’s life.
Director Clark Gregg moves the play at a steady clip, although he might consider un-blacking his blackouts to expose the workings of the scene changes, as befits the play’s arch theatricality.
Kevin Rigdon’s big, brooding set is on par with Rasche’s performance, lending more weight to the play than the script justifies. Less obvious but also fine is the lighting by Howard Werner and the costuming of Kaye Voyce.