by Raul Sanchez Inglis
Squire John's Playhouse
At the Beaumont Studios
5th and Alberta
May 13-15

Writer/director Raul Sanchez Inglis must have had some REALLY bad experiences in the film biz if In the Eyes of God is any indication.

His terrific play, remounted here after a short successful run last November, is one of the most vicious exposés of Hollywood venality, misogyny and the social Darwinism that drives the star-making machinery that you‘ll ever see. It’s hard to imagine how anyone could put an original spin on this material, but Inglis’ writing is so sharp, funny and horrific that it never feels overly familiar. And the play gets a great production in the 60-seat confines of Squire John’s Playhouse.

This is very nasty stuff, so in-your-face you’ll want to take a shower afterwards. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

We're deep into David Mamet territory--think 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, with no prisoners taken and no quarter given. Willing to do literally anything to get ahead or maintain an edge, these folks make Wall Street's Gordon Gecko ("Greed is good!") seem like an altruist.

When Tench and Fargus, straight out of LaBute’s 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. The destruction of Foster's marriage is only the collateral damage. Their brutal power struggle is finally resolved by Julius, head of the men's agency and guru of what he calls "corporate hedonism." One of his few mottos that’s quotable in a family newspaper: “You grab life by the balls and you squeeze the blood out of it.”

The snappy script has some exquisite moments like the vicious, grinning hostility when Fargus visits the women's agency. Even when Inglis overwrites, as in Tench's long, gratuitous speech celebrating corporate capitalism as the foundation of civilization, he delivers some memorable lines: “You think if there was a union, the pyramids would ever have been built?” As director, Inglis maintains a crisp pace and constantly flowing action around the tiny stage space, with nothing but a few black-painted plywood boxes for a set and seven very strong actors.

Ben Ayres and Scott Miller, reprising their original roles as sociopathic Tench and sex-obsessed Fargus, are perfectly sleazy. Lori Triolo, back again as Linne, matches them strength for strength. And like them, there's no low to which she won't go. Anna Williams nicely underplays Judi, the quiet one who bides her time. As the filmmaker who sells his soul, Graem Beddoes never seems to be acting, and Christie Will makes us care about his wife Andrea, the least developed character. Reg Tupper is ferocious as Julius, the alpha-male from hell.

Great sound design by Harley Paul featuring--who’da thunk it--the Dave Clark Five.

Jerry Wasserman

last updated: Sunday, May 8, 2005 8:42 PM
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