Review by Tony Kilgannon
Sky Gilbert wrote and directs this very engaging thought-provoking production, currently at Hamilton’s Artword Artbar. The title character, James Lacroix; a convicted hit-man, is giving a speech for the John Howard Society, in order to get on the good side of his parole board. He is preceded on the stage by a journalist/activist, portrayed by Stephanie Jones, who is upset that such a ruthless man is allowed this kind of opportunity for attention and thus inserted herself as a counterweight to his attempts. Photo courtesy of James Chambers
Jason Cadieux nails the role of Lucky Jim. He exudes a threatening manner, even while attempting to justify himself to us under the guise of “explaining”. Lacroix is at great pains to distinguish between the two concepts, but lacks the communication skills to do it effectively. His attempts merely impress on us what a low-functioning low-life he is. The tricky bit is that Cadieux also gives the character a smattering of humanity, a kind of endearing ordinariness, in the contract killer’s persona.
Jones rolled out her character as a sensible and prim citizen wishing to curtail Lucky Jim’s plan to whitewash himself. Over several minutes of her opening speech she ramped up the rhetoric, working herself almost into hysteria. Her performance was gripping and believable. While she pulled us to her side with details about Lacroix’s victims and his evils, she pushed us away with her shrill tone and over-the-top ideas of revenge and punishment.
We in the audience play a role in the experience as well. We were treated and addressed as members of the John Howard Society function. The action took place mostly on the small stage in front of us, but it also extended to the rest of the room, so that at times we looked over our shoulders to see the journalist, standing by the door, or over toward the bar, where Lacroix poured himself a coffee while offering us one. I found myself pulled into the situation, taking sides and making judgements as if the circumstances were real. I began putting my sympathies in what may have been the wrong place at several moments. Gilbert manipulates us by mixing good and bad with disproportionate levels of charm, or lack of it, so that black and white can become grey. An evil man can be a rogue; a righteous woman can be self-righteous. It’s all in the presentation.
Gilbert’s gritty language, and the minimalist set made this reviewer feel a part of the action. I liked that I was in Hamilton, in the play and in reality. And I appreciated being in Artword Artbar, where a pint of very nice craft-beer can be purchased for only 5 bucks.
I recommend checking out An Evening with Lucky Jim. Sat. Nov. 9-17th at 8:00; matinees @ 2:30pm. 905-543-8512
From Nov 24th to 27th the show moves to St. Kitts’ Courthouse Theatre – 101King St. at James. 905-684-6255