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The Domino Heart, Finborough Theatre | reviews, news & interviews

The Domino Heart, Finborough Theatre

The Domino Heart, Finborough Theatre

Organ failure is the theme in a sincere Canadian three-hander

Amanda Hale: intense in 'The Domino Heart'Oscar Blustin Photography

Canadian playwright Matthew Edison's award-winning 2003 play The Domino Heart receives its European premiere in rather reduced circumstances. As a Sunday to Tuesday production at the Finborough (directed by Jane Jeffery), it takes place on the set of another play (Chris Thompson's Carthage). Luckily the play itself is essentially a shared act of storytelling. Three characters deliver monologues to the audience while the others read, write, doodle and generally act as if they're not hearing one another. In the world of the play, they're in different geographical locations and different moments in time, although they are all connected by one thing: the organ of the play's title.

Cara (Amanda Hale) is dealing with the passing of a loved one and trying to search for her own culpability in that accidental death, less out of self-flagellation than as a way of making some sense of the world when her Unitarian church fails to do so. Septuagenarian Reverend Mortimer (Lawrence Werber) awaits a heart-transplant. He is filled with a lust for life, a showman's excitement and a genuine love for others but he has been the cause of pain to another in his past, maybe even of his best childhood friend's death. He and Cara are both distraught by their acts of cruelty, the lack of care they paid to the trust and love of another.

They are essentially “good” people though. Thirty-something advertising exec Leo (Rob Cavazos, pictured right), on the other hand, reeks of self-hatred, even as he changes into a brand new expensive shirt from his office filing cabinet. He needs a new heart. It's his own fault: the stress, the lifestyle, his recklessness. It's not entirely clear if he actually wants to live. He recognises that it's not “just” that he should get to live, or even that he was born in the first place but he doesn't believe in the world being “just”. He wants us to hate him or envy him so much that it's impossible not to feel terribly sorry for him.

The metaphors are frequently overwrought and some of the philosophising is in danger of sounding like a self-help manual, but this is a sincere, sensitive piece of work. There was some first-night hesitancy from Lawrence Werber which unfortunately made him less convincing as a charismatic public orator but, apart from that, the cast were excellent. Amanda Hale's Cara, the emotional centre of the piece, is incredibly intense as the stiff upper-lipped, woolly-jumpered Toronto intellectual doing a really good job of not showing everyone that she is falling apart. In the intimate traverse setting, Hale makes you care for her character so much that when Mortimer finally reaches out and metaphysically takes her hand, it's like coming up for air.

  • The Domino Heart at the Finborough Theatre on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays until 18 February
Amanda Hale's Cara is incredibly intense as the stiff upper-lipped, woolly-jumpered Toronto intellectual


Editor Rating: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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