Friday, 8 May 2009
Speed-The-Plow, May 8, 2009 ***1/2
By David Mamet by Human Sacrifice Theatre
Chapel off Chapel, Prahran, May 8 to 24, 2009
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on May 8, 2009
Everyone wants to be a maverick in Hollywood but nobody ever actually risks being a maverick, says the movie producer in Speed-the-Plow. They are too afraid to break the rules, too unwilling to make an arty film with a limited audience and too greedy to make a movie that loses money.
David Mamet’s play is a snapshot of two movie producers as they wrangle over the respective merits of doing good or making money. Bobby Gould (Mark Diaco) is the successful, newly appointed executive producer for a major movie studio. The world is his oyster. He now has licence to “green light” any project under $30 million or to pitch it to his studio boss.
His old pal, Charlie Fox (Colin MacPherson) is not so charmed but he thinks his luck is about to change when he brings to Bobby a sure-fire hit, action-packed, blockbuster script with a major star attached. What Charlie cannot predict is the impact of a pretty woman with a strong view on Bobby’s judgement.
Mamet’s signature of pithy, clipped dialogue, aggressive male characters and themes dealing with the emotional wasteland of our modern world are evident in Speed-The-Plow. The characters argue in short, sharp phrases, interrupting each other and repeating themselves in characteristic Mamet style.
Diaco is a boyish producer, which is probably accurate in the Hollywood world that favours youthfulness. As Bobby, he travels a journey from bravado to vulnerability. MacPherson vibrates with the anxiety of the unsuccessful producer teetering on the brink of disaster. As Bobby’s temporary secretary, Kasia Kaczmarek balances naivete and manipulation.
The stage is sparsely decorated and the focus is on the actors. What is missing from Matt Emond’s production is the menace and boldness that is inherent in Mamet. Diaco and MacPherson spar with words but only occasionally reach the heightened, bold bullishness and implicit and explicit violence that give Mamet plays their edge.
Charlie says, “Sex, titillation and violence; people want it. No, they require it.” From the huge box office takings and queues outside cinemas, we have to believe he is right – sadly.