The Domino Effect is a scientific theory dating back to the 1950s. It probes at past events and suggests they could be related to other, seemingly separate occurrences. In Matthew Edison’s play, three people are entwined only by the physicality of one human heart: the Domino Heart.
Finding balance plagues two of these three: one a grieving widow; one a stressed suit who chats percentages, loss, profit, and the crucial impact of value, whatever that means. The third is an elderly Reverend about to undergo a heart transplant. At heart, he’s sharp, expressive, and representative of those who appreciate life.
Despite the text’s intentions, Amanda Hale’s widow vies for sympathy but is ineffective. Ten years on from her affair, her still-damaged husband meets an untimely death on the road. If there is anyone to mourn in this partnership, it’s he – the cheated-on, dead husband. Instead, unlikable widow Cara downs vodka angrily. Both Hale’s big, consuming performance and Edison’s text suggest she is the real victim – at home, with her child still intact – but it is Cara’s late husband who deserves attention. A more engaging, humane Cara may have proffered from her loss; or merely convincingly mourned. Instead, the character spirals into self-hate which quickly becomes indulgent and barely offers a view unto tragedy.
It is the elderly addition to the trio that, through his charm offensive, is most fun. Without emotional bipolarity, his is a character facing the future with perky courage; his take on the severity of life is charm-filled and realistic. Unlike the rest, the Reverend Mortimer Wright (Lawrence Werber) is faced with his own mortality and manages to retain wider perspective – still, there is little substance to his scene, which is a lot of fun; but forgotten come the next round of action.
It is surprisingly the suit – the red card of the set – that garners most affection. He admittedly sees the errors of his lifestyle and finds it hard to change – something Cara isn’t capable of. Rob Cavazos’ performance is well-envisioned and played out as he saunters about as Leo, a character largely symptomatic of the drudge of city-addiction. Leo is aware of his faults, which make his admissions, such as his difficulty in lovingly facing his mother, the most moving of the night.
This three-hand tale often overshadows its’ themes of loss and grievance by directing its’ attention toward stunting dramatics. Over compensatory monologues are often to blame; but the production itself does little to herd the expanse. Yet, in the Reverend Mortimer and in Leo there are performances to treasure. Particularly for Cavazos’ Leo, who offers a unique insight into the power of denial and how that affects ‘good’ and ‘bad’ in the city.
The Domino Heart plays in repertoire at The Finborough Theatre Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays until 18th February – Grab tickets from the Finborough’s website
We’ve covered loads of other Fringe theatre recently – Ciphers is still playing @bushtheatre, as are Blind & Doing The Business @CourtyardHoxton. Check out what we thought of Little Black Book @ParkTheatre