Ken Out of Ten
Jewish Chronicle , 25 July 2003
Kenneth Brangh excels in a thrilling version of an underrated David Mamet play says John Nathan
At times it hurts to watch, but never do you want to tear your eyes away. In 23 short, blistering scenes Eward Hall's production, starring Kenneth Branagh, is darker, more interesting, funnier and better acted than that other David Mamet revival currently in the West End, the sold-out celebrity-fest, "Sexual Perversity In Chicago."
And not only is "Edmond" a better drama, but as part of the Olivier's tenner-a-seat season, it represents a higher league in value.
Although this 1982 play is not considered among the author's best works, it would be a mistake to underestimate the writing. Mamet's "Everyman" is a married, middle-aged New Yorker who rejects his wife and staid life, embarking on an odyssey through the mean streets of his city, during in which he spirals into an ever-deeper amoral morass.
His every encounter with a series of hookers and hustlers and hustlers is a new humiliation. On the street, cardsharps beat him up. Naked in a brothel, he searchs frantically through his clothes for cash. Evan the pasty pallor of Branagh's skin suggests a man with a dissolving soul. The worm turns when he beats to a pulp a black pimp in a frighteningly cathartic attack, pouring racist scorn with every sickening blow.
A lot has rightly been made of Branagh's performance in the title-role. He is brilliant. If I had one reservation, it is that there are faint echoes of the Woody Allen figure he played in the film "Celebrity", which does not fit the Waspy Edmond.
Mamet's plays have an in-built speed, and with Hall at the helm- a director who likes to drive text fast- the effect is an exhilarating ride.
As for the writing-it is as if the playwright asked what could be the worst that could happen to a stand-up guy like Edmond, and how and why could he get there? And then asked audience: "Do you still feel empathy with him?" Well, do you?