Betting on the Riverman (third review)

Betting-on-the-Riverman-Julian-N-KEY-promo-image1Writer: David B. Fraser
Director: Julian Nicholson
Cast: Kimberly Jonasson, Rick Kanary, Carol Riddell, Julian Nicholson

Review by: John Bandler

The action takes place in a typical hotel room, the hotel also being a casino.

Eddie (Rick Kanary) is addicted to gambling. He displays typical signs and symptoms of addiction that we have become accustomed to through movies and the theatre, if not in real life, for example, the need of the addict to escalate the behavior to get the desired effects of the addiction.

Grace (Carol Riddell) is working for his creditors, who insist on immediate repayment of a debt. The bombshell Grace is something else he seems to be hooked on. She plays the “good guy” to the creditors’ “bad guy,” for whom she, of course, is working.

In desperation, Eddie calls on his former wife Val (Kimberly Jonasson), who arrives in his hotel room, where they replay the fights that drove them to divorce. He makes futile attempts to sweet-talk her into bankrolling him. “You do look good,” he says a number of times to no avail. He turns up the heat with, “You didn’t complain when I came home with money.” And so the drama escalates. Val swings into some brilliantly conceived accusations, contrasting Eddie with her new partner.

Exit Val. Enter Ken, Eddie’s father (Julian Nicholson). Now Eddie ratchets up the deceit to wheedle the money he needs out of his father. He berates Ken with Ken’s obsession for the family cabin, and the indignities he, Eddie, suffered as a child.

Again, author David B. Fraser comes up with some memorable vignettes and brilliant story twists (that I don’t want to give away here) as Eddie desperately exploits family dynamics to convince Ken to cough up the dough.

And Eddie and Ken debate the way Eddie is addicted to gambling. “It’s a sickness,” Ken says. “Only when you lose,” says Eddie. “Then you’re sick.” Bottom line, Eddie tries to convince Ken that he’s in mortal danger if he doesn’t repay his bad-guy creditors.

Almost nothing is off limits in Eddie’s determination to get his hands on money.

The final scene between Eddie and Grace will stay with me. The manner in which Grace goads Eddie and how he responds are priceless elements of drama.

While there’s not a lot of movement on the stage and the scene transitions are a bit awkward, the delivery of the lines is uniformly strong, with some excellent monologues. This play is well worth attending. 

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One Response to Betting on the Riverman (third review)

  1. Tom Mackan says:

    I like this review for its clarity. The relationships among the characters when seen through Dr. Bandler’s critical detachment give the production substantial verity and that deserves to be recognized. He gives substantial credit to the writing, an enviable element of Fraser’s craft. Yes, indeed. TNgM.

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