Corin Raymond is an entertainer. Finishing Bookworm with a semi-standing ovation, it seems that most of the audience at the almost sold-out Strathcona Public Library thought so too. As for me, on the otherhand, while I thought Corin Raymond’s one-person show was entertaining, I didn’t really enjoy it.
Now, I’m certain I’m the odd one out but, as a theatre reviewer, I’m obliged to say why. Bookworm was a collection of stories that all boiled down to Raymond’s relationships with books, and in some cases, their authors. Fair enough – I was that kid too. I was that geek who kept track of all the books I’d read until I filled up my notebook. I was that girl who wanted Harry Potter to be real so badly. I was the kid whose only role models until I was 18 were authors. So, I understand that people have intimate relationships with their books. It’s not that I’m opposed to hearing about that relationship – in fact, this play would make for a really interesting discussion over coffee.
So, why didn’t I like it? I felt Raymond didn’t use the possibilities a monodrama affords to their full extent. It felt like there was still something on the table. Leaving the play, I was questioning my reaction – thanks, semi-standing ovation. However, I remembered the best monodrama I’ve ever seen – Jason, at last year’s Fringe. What was so amazing about Jason was that it explored layer upon layer of emotion. Having one person on stage makes the connection between the actor and the audience stronger, especially in intimate venues like those used in the Fringe. Anytime Raymond got close to revealing something personal, he would pause and say, “and that’s all I’m going to say about that.” I felt cheated! When I see one person on stage, I expect to get to know them personally. When Raymond said the aforementioned line, it cut him off from the audience, or at least, from me. It was as though he cut our coffee discussion short by saying, “that’s off limits,” and limiting how well we can get to know each other. If Raymond had expanded on some of those more personal points, or even didn’t say, “and that’s all I’m going to say about that” I would have felt more connected to him and his story.
See it if: you want to prove me wrong, you love books, or you love a good story.
– Jenna Marynowski