adam pettle's script may stum-ble occasionally, but you can bet that Zadie's Shoes won't shortchange you in the entertainment or emotions department. If there's a lot of set-up in the first act, the second gallops home with a real payoff.
At the centre of the tale is inveterate gambler Benjamin (Jordan Pettle), who plans to take his sick partner, Ruth (Kelli Fox), to Mexico for treatment but can't resist betting their trip money at the racetrack. With the advice of a synagogue-going prophet (Paul Soles), he hopes to recoup his losses and set everything right.
Pettle's script shapes other solid characters in Ruth's free-living sister Lily (Juno Mills-Cockell) and the multi-addicted Bear (an exuberant Randy Hughson), but the relationship between Ruth's anal sister Beth (Torri Higginson) and her weakly drawn partner, Sean (Paul Essiembre), is sketchy.
Jackie Maxwell's production hits most of the right notes, though some early scenes' rhythms -- in the restaurant meeting of the sisters, for instance -- move too slowly for the comedy to take off.
Fox is the solid, quiet emotional centre of the work, while Jordan Pettle neatly parlays Benjamin's twin anxieties -- about his lover and his own desperate addiction -- into a believably conflicted characterization. He'd do even better if Soles would learn his lines.
ZADIE'S SHOES by Adam Pettle, directed by Jackie Maxwell, with Jordan Pettle, Kelli Fox, Paul Soles, Paul Essiembre, Torri Higginson, Randy Hughson and Juno Mills-Cockell. Factory Theatre (125 Bathurst). Runs to February 4, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Saturday 4 pm and Sunday 2 pm. $20-$28, Sunday pwyc. 416-504-9971. Rating: NNNN