Guest Blogger Mike Lummis Reviews Lawrence & Holloman, a Dark Canadian Comedy

Jerry Schaefer as Holloman & Trent McMullen as Lawrence
Lawrence & Holloman
Starring Jerry Schaefer & Trent McMullen
Written by Morris Panych
Directed by Jane Ford
A Scrim For Rent Production

Morris Panych’s Lawrence & Holloman is a darkly comic tale about the destructive nature of envy. Holloman (Jerry Schaefer), a nebbish, awkward, sad-sack pessimist envies his “friend,” the handsome, energetic, self-adoring dimwit, Lawrence (Trent McMullen).

What makes the play so wickedly funny is the element of “friendship.” Even though Lawrence and Holloman only met two days ago, Lawrence considers Holloman someone he can trust and confide in. If the characters were sworn enemies the play would fall flat.

What also makes this show so hilarious is the play of opposites at work between the two characters. Pessimist/Optimist. Extrovert/Introvert. Intellect/Dunce. Blissful/Miserable. Holloman’s pessimism stems from his viewpoint that the world is a place where no good can occur and it’s his tendency to “think too much” that feeds his gloomy perspective. Lawrence is a happy simpleton, juxtaposing Holloman’s bitter, cerebral nature.

Lawrence’s unrelenting optimism pushes Holloman over the edge and drives this play into sinister, chaotic and twisted places. Holloman sees Lawrence as an arrogant idiot and refuses to accept that Lawrence can maintain his optimism in the face of any and all misfortune. No matter how bad things get, Lawrence believes he's always got Holloman to count on. “Good old Holloman. Like a mother hen.”

The play is brilliantly written with countless laugh-out-loud lines. In one scene Lawrence, in describing his mother says, “She always said you have to look around you. But then she got hit by a bus.” This line illustrates the flavour of the writing. Morris Panych is a comedic master. His dialogue is reminiscent of Mamet, peppered with staccato, unfinished sentences, characters overlapping each other and finishing each other’s sentences.

The actors succeed in nailing their roles. Neither Jerry Schaefer nor Trent McMullen hit a false note. They commit fully to their characters and take us along for the ride.

The production is staged at The Winchester Bar with the audience free to eat and drink while enjoying the show. Director Jane Ford does a wonderful job using blocking to illuminate the characters’ seesaw power struggles, and must be credited for creating a dynamic, seamless production.

A perfect combination of fantastic writing and superb acting makes Lawrence & Holloman a can’t miss show. Panych’s play shows that out of the seven deadly sins, envy is certainly one of the nastiest and great fodder for comedy.

Runs June 11th to June 21st
Starts 8:30 p.m. Doors Open at 7:30 p.m.
At the Winchester Kitchen and Bar, 51 A Winchester Street, just off Parliament.
Tickets are $20 a person
Students are $15 (just bring student ID card) 
For more information check out their event page on Facebook.
Get to know the artists:

Jerry Schaefer is one of Canada's most respected comedy writers, improv teacher and performer. He has worked with the Kids in the Hall and was a regular on The Red Green Show. For over 20 years Jerry was an improvisational acting instructor for the Second City. He was also the head writer for the CBC Radio shows The Muckraker and What a Week!, which he also produced. He has written for Colin Mocherie, Joe Flaherty, George Stromboulopoulos and Andrea Martin. He can be seen on stage weekly at the Comedy Bar in The Improv Show. 
Trent McMullen, making his professional stage debut, came to our attention in Don McKellar's award-winning Last Night, opposite Sarah Polley. He has since carved out a career in independent film, appearing in films such as, Dog PoundSmall Town Murder Song and It All Happens Incredibly Fast to name a few. Trent portrayed Orrie Cather on the hit A&E series Nero Wolfe and has guest starred in nearly 20 other television movies and shows. 
The much loved and respected Jane Ford is best known for her work in television as a executive producer/creator/writer. Some of her notable credits include: Material World, Radio Free Roscoe, and The Broad Side. She directed The Broad Side for the Tarragon Theatre and the CBC. Jane is also an exceptionally talented singer/songwriter and improviser.  

Morris Panych is one of Canada's most acclaimed theatre writers and director. He is a two-time winner of the Governor General's Award for Drama.  

Mike Lummis is a playwright, actor and director. He studied Theatre at York University, majoring in Directing. Mike is a member of ACTRA and has appeared in several films. Look for him in The Unsolicited Project, a comedic web series based in a Hollywood production office. Episode 1 coming soon!

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