EDWARD THE “CRAZY MAN” By Emil Sher (Workman Arts). To June 19. 416-583-4339, ext 7. See listings. Rating: NNN
You won’t find a conventional story in Edward The “Crazy Man,” Emil Sher’s adaptation of Marie Day’s book about the friendship between 12-year-old Charlie (Lyon Smith) and the title figure (John Cleland), a 30-?something guy dealing with schizophrenia and homelessness..
The two are drawn together by an interest in artistic creativity: Charlie is fascinated by Edward’s music-??making and his decoration of the hubcaps Charlie collects. After defending the homeless man when other youngsters (Victoria Danyluk and Charles Revored) attack him verbally, Charlie invites Edward home to dinner – much to his mother’s consternation – and makes Halloween plans with him.
Sher’s script is an affirmative study in youthful, instinctive kindness. Under director Leah Cherniak, Cleland’s sympathetic portrait of a man with a troubled past and present (Thomas Ryder Payne’s soundscape lets us hear the voices in his head) and Smith’s warm, trusting Charlie are finely sketched.
Their chemistry is the strongest part of the production, which ends on an optimistic but bittersweet note.
I wish, though, that the play dealt with the sensitivity around the relationship between a preteen and a man he doesn’t know well. Maybe the book doesn’t tackle that either, but it’s sure to occur to adults who watch the play.