by Lynn Slotkin
August 3, 2021
Eddie Mann is not having a good day. He’s a financial advisor, a job he hates, who has just lost his only client. He thinks back to when he was happy as a high school teacher, a job he loved for 31 years until he was forced to retire. He’s fed up with feeling bad. So he goes to the outside ledge of the sixth floor of the St. Vincent’s Hospital, preparing to jump and end it all.
But then a man casually appears from inside the building, looking out to Eddie on the ledge and says, “Hello there.” This startles Eddie, but thankfully not enough for him to lose his balance, fall and end the play even before it began. The man is perceptive. He says to Eddie: “You look jumpy. You seem on edge.” I’m smiling at the puniness of the situation (those are the only two jokes of John Spurway’s wonderfully funny, thoughtful play that I will reveal). The man’s name is “Angel” and is a nickname. We might groan here thinking this is obvious as to who Angel is, but try not to because that too is a trick. Angel says his name is ‘ironic.’ Angel is more and less than he seems. But his heart is in the right place.
Truths are told on the ledge. Secrets shared. Hope reappears.
John Spurway has written a sweet, funny play about life and finding the joy of it when you think you’ve lost it. It’s about friendship and how we influence people for good when we least expect it.
David Nairn has directed a neat, efficient production, with a cast that culls every laugh effortlessly. Beckie Morris’ set is ‘up in the blue sky with white clouds’ as a backdrop. Eddie Mann (Dave Rosser) is on the ledge and behind him is an open window. He is at the corner of the building. We get the impression Eddie made the decision quickly because he’s still in his business suit and tie, although the tie is a bit loose (Kudos to Lisa Lahue, the costume co-ordinator for such appropriate costumes).
As Eddie, Dave Rosser is ‘on edge’ and a bit anxious. He takes a big breath as if to convince himself to do what he’s planning on doing. But then Angel (Stephen Sparks) appears around the corner and sticks his head out in greeting. He is dressed casually, cap, pants and shirt. As Angel, Stephen Sparks is wonderfully relaxed and appears as if leaning leisurely against a ledge six stories up, talking to an anxious man who wants to jump, is the most normal of things. He does not urge Eddie to reconsider, he merely suggests it. Angel loves to banter and Eddie engages. But Eddie’s sense of Angel’s humour is not that sharp—I guess he’s pre-occupied with wanting to end it all. At times I’m thinking John Spurway’s dialogue seems like an Abbott and Costello routine—I think this a few seconds before Eddie mentions it himself. I love when playwrights make the audience feel as if they are smart and ‘get it.’
The rapport between Dave Rosser and Stephen Sparks is lovely; they listen hard to each other and there is nuance and delicacy. Bravo to David Nairn the director for guiding the subtleties. Jeffrey Wetsch as Earl provides a lovely touch in explaining how good a teacher Eddie was. Wetsch plays him as a happy, considerate, contented man who has found his calling because of a good teacher.
The Third Life of Eddie Mann is a gentle tonic for troubled times and provides a lovely lift to the spirits.