Review-Romance-Aurora Theatre


By: Olivia Rosenman


David Mamet’s Romance puts a Jewish defendant, his anti-Semitic, Christian lawyer, a gay prosecutor and a pill-popping judge in a courtroom, throwing in an idiot savant cum peacemaker bailiff for good measure. What unfolds is a rib-tickling, at times farcical and often downright depressing court case for which the charge is only revealed minutes before the play’s end.


Each actor in Aurora Theatre’s production does an excellent job portraying their somewhat ridiculous roles with consistency and credibility. It’s not an easy feat considering the demands of the characters. Tom Mclean simulates a perfect New York Jew’s accent. Neil Runcieman is excellent as a skittish, jittery judge doped up on anti-histamines. If he is inspired by John Cleese, he succeeds in mimicking his comic genius. Was the choice of underwear deliberate? The white jocks and undershirt are exactly what Cleese reveals when he takes off his clothes in A Fish Called Wanda.


The play is a sort of study in the worst of human nature. The way we make ourselves feel better by making other people feel worse. All of the actors manage to summon convincing acridity and conviction in their hatred of others. Ben Margalith’s anti-Semitic diatribes are impressive. It is written in the program that as a Jew, Margalith is ‘thrilled to be representing the anti-Semitic lawyer community’.


The set is simple and adequate, allowing for unimposing set changes and not distracting from the dialogue, which is the focus of the play. The story is an absurd set up, in which the defendant stands trial in a courtroom down the road from where a Middle East peace conference is taking place. There are constant interruptions. The judge’s allergy medications make him drowsy and incoherent, sending him off on farcical pontifications that mostly make no sense. The prosecutor repeatedly answers the phone to his disgruntled husband, who finally barges in to the courtroom, adding to the chaos. Amidst it all, the defendant and his lawyer devise a plan for peace in the Middle East, but whether or not they will be able to implement it is another question.


The play first premiered in 2005, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon; recently re-elected President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah II of Jordan met in Egypt to make another attempt at brokering peace. Nine years later, the situation in the Middle East seems entirely unimproved, but that doesn’t make the play the slightest bit less relevant. Amidst the chaos and the farce, the play is a reflection on racial and sexual stereotypes as well as timeless issues like paedophilia and the problems with the system of justice.

Aurora Theatre’s rendition of Romance is a pithy and enjoyable production. If only the seats in the Fringe Club Underground Theatre weren’t so shamefully uncomfortable!


Romance is playing through November 22nd. For more information, click here.



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Rate This Show: 1 2 3 4 5 Audience Rating: 3.8


  • Meaghan
    29 January 2015

    David Mamet's script may not be for everyone but I thought the cast and crew did a great job with it.

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