Reviews - Fringe 2009

Betting on the Riverman

By Tom Mackan
Published July 19, 2009

this blog entry has been updated

Written and directed by David B. Fraser
Featuring Richard Archer, Caroline Concordia, Carl Gambacourt, and Nea Reid

David Fraser writes with slick confidence, but that's not enough. He does his research homework and puts together his tale intelligently and with a convincing sense of what makes a play work. His direction warms my heart.

The sense of stage and staging, even in with the minimum resources provided for Fringe, is largely impeccable. Text is character driven and studied for its rhythm and beats. His choice of cast and the smart discipline in which they create brings it all together with sparkling pace and dramatic success.

Unfortunately no programmes are provided, but I've managed to get some names with which to work and I hope I get them correctly connected to the roles.

If it's Richard Archer who drives this story of a desperate loser, he gives a beautifully measured performance, meting out Fraser's tale in exact and convincing moments. Never a wasted move or a badly judged reaction. Great stuff. He has the goods and knows how to use them.

He is a man in need of help, and the "riverman", his Charon, waits to haul his drowned carcass out of the Stygian swamp of his enormous gambling losses, while the sharks who would drag him there swim just off stage.

Archer is supported by a superb Nia Reid as his merciless ex-wife. She is an actor of impressive sensitivity to character.

Believable and effective is Carl Gambacourt in the part of his self-protecting and insensitive father.

And like one of those pilot fish that flirt around the nose of a shark, the money hungry high-priced escort, Caroline Concordia plays the part of temptress with cold competence and deadly purpose.

This is a super example of commercial theatre at its money-making best. And that's a compliment.


Update: Updated to correct the names of the actors performing in this piece. You can jump to the changed paragraph.

Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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By David B Fraser (anonymous) | Posted July 19, 2009 at 22:49:31

Val (ex-wife) is played by Nea Reid
Grace (temptress) is played by Caroline Concordia
-many thanks

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