l-r Howard Rosenstein, Chrisopher Moore
(photo credit: Katie Leggitt)
A play about boxing not about boxing
by Gaëtan L. Charlebois
Cornered, by Jim Burke, is a conversation. Through this conversation we learn what we need to know about the two characters, the old hand Rex (played by Howard Rosenstein) and his sidekick Vinnie (Christopher Moore) - and about the place (a squalid neighbourhood boxing gym). We are meant to ebb and flow along with the gorgeously written dialogue, and tingle at the turns of phrase of the Mancounian (Manchester) accents. And played out over its 50 minutes, this might have emerged as a gem of a production.
Perhaps because of the jitters, the play was unbalanced as Moore absolutely inhabited his role.
Opening night, however, was not kind to the play. There were some jitters and several flubs by Rosenstein who, nevertheless, has a solid stage presence - one large enough to play alpha dog to Moore's quirky, bouncy, noisy pack follower. Perhaps because of the jitters, the play was unbalanced as Moore absolutely inhabited his role. But slowly, the rhythm was established and though it was never clear where the piece was going, it was clear that it was not about the plot but about two fascinating losers and their peculiar relationship.
But then the director, Paul Van Dyck, condemned the evening to flatness and, finally, pointlessness. After a mere 30 minutes - when the play was just starting to move and the actors were both up to the same speed...intermission. After the break's 18 minutes, the steam that had been building was lost. The small-time-loser dramatics of the final 20 minutes didn't have an anchor and what might have been a sad (yet still funny) ending just felt flat.
I think it is the first time I have seen the placement of an unnecessary intermission absolutely kill a show. I suspect, if they get rid of the time-out, they will have a tidy, fascinating and funny little character-study that will be worth the trip downtown.