Thursday, 2 October 2014

Speed-The-Plow Review

by David Mamet


With the press feeding frenzy on the first ever stage appearance of LiLo (yes, TLT and her coupé are down there with the yoofspeak!), it sometimes felt like life imitating art, or maybe commerce, at the Playhouse Theatre. 

Yet scaffolding outside turned out to be real,  not perches for the papps. And as hard-hatted builders did not leap to attention when TLT drove up in her limousine, they were probably not undercover reporters. Even so, advance publicity for David Mamet’s 1988 play “Speed-The-Plow” indicates  the baying hacks have never studied  Hillel the Elder’s monoped precept of brotherly love. Or maybe they view LiLo as some parole-breaking ho rather than a brother ... 

So ...

Will LiLo overcome the Mean Critics, learn some life lessons - surely every feelgood Hollywood film has a pseudo morality? -  and emerge triumphant ...?” 

Well ... 

Firstly, all three actors in this preview performance had acting chops but – TLT is undecided whether it is the play or the direction by Lindsay Posner which make this an uneven theatrical experience. 

Bobby Gould (Richard Schiff of "West Wing" fame) is a newly-promoted or appointed (TLT and sidekick didn't know the play before seeing this) Hollywood executive with the power to “green light” new studio productions. (How thrilling ... has David Mamet read TLT’s blogs ;)?!. 

Erstwhile colleague Charlie Fox (an exuberant Nigel Lindsay) sees his seemingly more cerebral former colleague, suddenly lifted on the shoulders of a corporation, as the gateway to riches with his own populist hack work – a predictable prison violence-fest. 

Add to this testosterone mix a shapely tomato  - yes, TLT  is also down there with the male chauvinist slang! - Karen the temp secretary (Lindsay Lohan) who becomes a tool in Charlie’s blinkered aggression to promote his private interests but turns out to have her own unhealthy (for Charlie) interest in radiation ...

Nigel Lindsay is the most consistent of the performers in this office (and bedroom) satire with an ebullient Charlie invading the stage as he intends to make a cinematic killing, let loose to become a Hollywood made man. Richard Schiff looks and moves the part as Bobby but until the second act his faltering diction upsets the play's balance.

OK, OK, I’m coming to her – in the first act Lindsay Lohan, while slightly constrained, projects her lines clearly, naturally, bringing a poise and dignity to the role of Karen. But oh, and oh, did someone threaten her in the interval? Or did the boys not let her in to the secrets of the rest of the plot? 

Although still clear, she seemed nobbled, delivering her second act lines as a perfunctory duty. She appeared relieved to be viewed a part of the team when taking her bow (ok, from the lofty heights of The Gods, TLT has given in to the common mob, making up her own plot and indulging in a bit of unwarranted amateur psychology like everyone else) !!!  

While  Lohan goes down like a bear market automated trade, Schiff grabs his opportunity and somewhat frenetically but authentically comes into his own. The problem is all three actors throughout feel as if they are acting in different plays, leaving the rhythm of the plot in tatters, not helped by a prolonged gap for a scene change in the second act. Maybe by press night, it’ll be pulled together. In the meantime, TLT and her roadster cannot bring themselves to present their coveted green light but are happy to shove it on the amber light “maybe”  pile.