‘Race’ pushes audience to the Edge

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Lakewood’s The Edge Theatre has become the local go-to spot to see the works of playwright David Mamet, so it should be no surprise that the first production at its new location is a regional premiere of one of Mamet’s most recent works.

With his infamous sharp wit and uncompromising gaze, Mamet shines a light on modern race relations and work environment in “Race.”

The production will play weekends at the theater, 1560 Teller St., through April 7. Show times are 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 2 p.m. Saturdays and 6 p.m. Sundays.

This is the third Mamet production in three seasons for The Edge, but Rick Yaconis, executive producer and artistic director, said he had to work very hard to get the rights for “Race,” particularly because it has never been done in the region before. He said he wanted the Edge’s first performance in its new home to be a first for the play.

“The play takes place in a modern law office, and is about two male lawyers — one black, one white — and their young, black, female intern. The team is offered the chance to defend a rich, white executive against charges of raping a young, black woman.

“You really see that it’s about the lies people tell, and how there is still racism in the country; it’s just discussed in a more politically correct way.” Yaconis said.

Robert Kramer, who directed last year’s production of Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross,” and Yaconis said he was tapped to direct “Race” because he knows what to do with Mamet.

“It’s been great, but a challenge because of the new space and Mamet’s words,” Kramer said. “There’s no intermission in the play, and it almost feels like you’re watching a movie instead of a play.”

Since the play tackles such a sensitive topic, Kramer said, the first thing he did with the four actors was sit them down and have several discussions about their experiences dealing with racism. He said the discussions not only helped to refine the characters the actors are playing, but brought the cast closer together.

“I really wanted the actors to be advocates for their characters,” Kramer said. “At times throughout the story, every character could be found guilty of something, and the audience will decide on its own who is guilty.”

Kramer said audience members will see the play through their own perspectives, with all the experience that brings. For example, it is never made clear where the story actually takes place, and audience members will have varying opinions on the setting.

“Race” is supposed to spark conversations after the lights come down, and both Kramer and Yaconis said they’re looking forward to that aspect of it.

“The outcome is pretty open, and I think it will be interesting for the audience to talk about that,” he said. “I want to hear what they think will happen next and who is really guilty.”

For tickets and more information, call 303-232-0363 or go online to www.theeproject.org.

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