BY COLIN MACLEAN, EDMONTON SUN
TUESDAY, AUGUST 21, 2012
VENUE 37 – Strathcona Library
Corin Raymond grew up in a library. Actually, it was his father’s house but dad was a teacher by profession and bibliophile by obsession. His entire house was one big book repository. And he passed his love of books down to his son, mostly on long motor trips through the wilds of northern Ontario where his father would tell him the centuries old tales of Greek mythology. He would also read him stories at night acting out the characters. Observes Raymond, “My father was a teacher by day but a secret actor at night. The luckiest of secret actors have kids to read to.”
In his one-man show, Bookworm, Raymond comes out on the (blessedly air conditioned) stage of the Strathcona library with a water bottle and a stack of books. And that’s all he needs. He had me at his first reading, a few words from the prologue of Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. Bradbury has long been my favourite author.
The rest of the hour is powered by the man’s warmth and wit. Bookworm is no lecture. His love of reading is threaded through his (sometimes difficult) life with his family; the heartbreak of losing a mother (two of them actually), of not finishing high school and breaking his beloved father’s heart and forging a successful career as a singer/songwriter. And always there were the books — from the classics to the comics. He stoutly defends the artistic merit of comics, even that poor loser Spiderman, who has to wash his own super garments in his small apartment. “Good books have souls and the people in them have souls,” he muses.
Raymond is a natural storyteller who lowers his voice in particularly dramatic parts drawing the audience in. He’s pleasant and accessible, occasionally speaking in the cadences of a man used to talking to musicians. He’s like the guy you might meet in a bookstore on a rainy afternoon, that wants to talk books. His monologue has been dramaturged and co-directed by the master of the spoken Fringe autobiography, T. J. Dawe and his fingerprints are all over it. But it is Raymond’s show and he makes the hour his own.
He ends his hour the same way he begins it, only this time he performs, with passion and intelligence, the entire (short) prologue of Something Wicked This Way Comes. Magic.