As you watch Morris Panych’s Lawrence and Holloman unfold you will find yourself wondering, “How on earth can this end well?”
The latest main stage production put on by Persephone Theatre at the Remai Arts Centre is a dark and twisted comedy that puts two opposing points of view at odds with each other. Lawrence (Matthew Edison), a positive, happy-go-lucky, somewhat dim character meets Holloman (Michael Spencer-Davis), an uptight, dull and calculating realist. Lawrence, whose arrogance throughout the play is excused only by his joie de vivre, wrongfully reduces Holloman to a lowly shoe salesman upon meeting him. This encounter establishes the main device of the drama wherein Lawrence’s obnoxiousness eclipses Holloman’s matter-of-fact, negative outlook on life.
At the beginning of the play, Lawrence is on top of the world, whereas Holloman — a slave to his stifling routines — is merely a ghost of a man. As the play progresses, their lives begin to change dramatically. Lawrence’s impenetrable optimism is compromised by a series of mysterious and unfortunate events as Holloman’s life improves through Lawrence’s constant presence.
One of the primary themes of this play is the notion of serendipity versus free will. Lawrence is of the mind that everything happens for a reason whereas Holloman has a more nihilistic outlook on life. The production asks its audience to consider whether they’re willing to live their lives as frightened cowards or voracious optimists no matter what the consequences may be.
The set functions on an interesting sort of revolving door system; imagine the revolving fireplace from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade except bigger and without all the fire and Nazis.
The differences between the two men is punctuated by Lawrence’s continuous costume changes as his descent into poverty progresses (so much so that, by the end of the play, he is actually naked) in contrast to Holloman’s permanent, unchanged, boring suit.
Reminiscent of famous comedic duos such as Laurel and Hardy or Abbott and Costello, Lawrence and Holloman is full of malapropisms, physical comedy and adult humour.