Competition Is Fierce is Raw, Real and Fun
By Ezekiel McAdams
March 18, 2015
ITSAZOO’s latest production, The Competition Is Fierce, is a bold experiment that doesn’t hold back, gripping the audience and sending them down a road of a where the only rule is, there are no rules. The dark dramedy is directed by Chelsea Haberlin and from a script by Sebastian Archibald.
The play, focuses on five main characters and the power struggles that come with vying for power in a dystopian corporate hierarchy. The characters are brought together after the death of the director of finance, at the mysterious "Company" they work for. John (Chris Cochrane) and John 2 (Carlos Marks) are both gunning for the finance position, John is the everyman character who has climbed up the ladder while John 2, is the son of the recently diseased and is trying to use his powers of charm, confidence and nepotism to worm his way through. Caryle (Andrew Wheeler) is the second in command, overseeing the rigorous training program that John and John 2 are now in. Madeline (Marilyn Norry) is the boss, speaking on behalf of the board and using every trick she has to stay ahead and in the game. The last of the characters, Claire (Rachel Cairns) is the loose cannon that intersects with each of the characters as she goes further down the rabbit hole of the corporate dynamic.
Archibald’s script is very tight. The language and dialogue, course, but real, has a razor sharp edge that becomes hilarious. This shaky tension and rapid fire dialogue adds to the audience's ability to be thrown into this world.
Haberlin’s direction should be applauded, Her knack for making the actors have a chemistry and bond, felt very naturalistic and real. Her direction added to the atmosphere, where you may at times, feel, that instead of watching a play, you were a fly on the wall in one of the boardrooms at the company.
The set is masterfully designed in a small room, leaving only enough room for the actors involved and the audience. The claustrophobic space helps add tension that allows the audience to become immersed into this world. Several times during the runtime, the actors become so close and physical to the audience that you begin to wonder if you are part of the show as well.
Cochrane, is very good at embodying the everyman character that John is. Instilling a meekness and a man ruled by safety guidelines and protocol Cochrane’s mannerisms are subtle and could be forgotten by some of the larger performances, but his performance is the glue that allows the audience to stay connected to the world. Marks performance as John 2, is simply fun. He oozes confidence, charisma, passion and while dripping seeds of self doubt, like rattlesnake venom, making you hate him, only to swept back under his charm like a rolling tide. While Mark brings fun, it is Wheeler’s performance as Carlyle that is the highlight. His bombastic portrayal of a man desperately clinging to power, legacy and history is both funny yet tragically heartbreaking. Norry’s Madeline is also a delight. A wolf in plain sight but still manipulative enough to fool you. Norry exudes bravado, confidence and a sense of power that controls every scene she is in. Cairns plays Claire skillfully and like an onion, peels the layers of her character when necessary to bring a roughness yet very emphatic and vulnerable quality.
In short, Competition Is Fierce is a an event not to be missed. This is a play that will grip you and then leave you in shrunken state where you mull over the minutia of the whole event hours afterward and then, shake your head at what you just witnessed.
Competition is Fierce is at The Shop Theatre from March 4-22
More information about ITSAZOO can be found at http://itsazoo.org/