by Raul Sanchez Inglis
Squire John's Playhouse
At the Beaumont Studios
5th and Alberta
April 27-May 7

Here's Jerry's review of this production when it was first mounted last November:

In Vancouver's current theatrical environment, with so many shows on now that you'd have to go to the theatre five nights a week just to keep up, it's easy for a small company to slip under the radar. I knew about Squire John's Playhouse, the new black box theatre in the Beaumont Studios at 5th and Alberta. I knew that the people who run it were mounting their own first production, a new play about the biz, employing actors who work primarily in TV and film. But there's been so much else going on that it got shuffled to the bottom of the pack, and I've only just now gotten to see it, a few days before closing. Well, better late than never. Raul Sanchez Inglis' In the Eyes of God is a terrific play, an extremely nasty exposé of Hollywood venality, misogyny and the social Darwinism that drives the star-making machine. No revelations here, but the writing is so sharp that it never feels overly familiar. And it gets a phenomenal production.

We're deep in David Mamet territory--American Buffalo, Glengarry Glen Ross, Speed-the-Plow--and even deeper into Neil LaBute. It's a battle of the sexes and a war between foul-mouthed, vulgar agents, willing to do literally anything to get ahead or keep an edge. When Tench and Fargus, straight out of In the Company of Men, lose their client Foster, a sad-sack filmmaker, to an agency run by tough broads Linne and Judy, the knives come out. Foster's marriage falling apart is only the collateral damage. The brutal power struggle is finally resolved by Julius, head of the men's agency and guru of what he calls "corporate hedonism" and "dog fuck dog" competition. These folks make Wall Street's Gordon ("Greed is good!") Gecko seem like an altruist.

Though derivative, and overwritten in the second act with Tench's gratuitous "hooray for corporations" speech and a few too many false endings, the script is mostly smart and snappy with some exquisitely written scenes--the vicious, grinning hostility when Fargus visits the women's agency, for one. Inglis directs his own script with panache, a crisp pace and constantly flowing action around the tiny stage space, with nothing for a set but a few black-painted plywood boxes. And he has seven very strong actors at his disposal.

Ben Ayres as sociopathic Tench and Scott Miller as sex-obsessed Fargus are perfectly sleazy. Lori Triolo's Linne matches them strength for strength and, like them, there's no low to which she won't go. They were my favourite performances, but really the entire cast is exceptional. Judi Neville shows her own kind of strength as Nadine, the quiet one who bides her time. Graem Beddoes does wonderful work as the filmmaker who sells his soul, and Christie Will makes us care about his wife Andrea, the least interesting character. Frank Cassini's bravura performance as Julius is sometimes dangerously close to going over the top, but ultimately Cassini keeps him grounded somewhere between Tarantino and The Godfather. Hey, if you're going to be derivative, you might as well derive from the best.

Jerry Wasserman

last updated: Wednesday, May 4, 2005 10:00 AM
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