Saturday, January 17, 2009

Speed-the-Plow and Other Adventures

by Pa Rock
Drama Critic

This morning we boarded a Grey Line Bus for a tour of lower Manhattan. Our first stop was Macy's Department Store, but they chose not to open to accommodate our early arrival. Next came the Empire State Building, and with no lines what-so-ever, we scooted right onto an elevator and, eighty-six stories later, found ourselves on the observation deck. We talked to a guide who showed us where the U.S. Airways plane went down in the Hudson River earlier this week. He said that people were able to watch the entire ordeal from the observation deck.

Our third stop was Chinatown, where the lady that I was accompanying climbed into a van with a very surreptitious Chinese lady and bought some purses. I was assigned a place to stand on the street until the deal went down - with a very serious looking Chinese man standing by to keep an eye on me. It was quite an interesting little syndicate. Everybody (and their were several) working with the operation were dressed alike, blue jeans and North Shore black jackets, and each carried a small two-way radio. While we were in Chinatown we were also approached for Rolexes, driver's licenses, and I.D. Cards. This evening another lady told me that she had bought twelve purses in a similar manner this week.

Tonight finished our Broadway run - five plays in as many nights. This evening's fare was David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow, a revival of a play that originally ran for a season on Broadway twenty years ago. The three-actor cast included William H. Macy (Fargo), Elisabeth Moss (West Wing, Mad Men), and Raul Esparza (Pushing Daisies).

Mamet focuses on workplace conflicts. His Pulitzer Prize-winning earlier work, Glengarry Glenross, looks at the real estate industry from the inside, and Speed-the-Plow depicts the machinations that Hollywood producers go through in selecting scripts to make into movies. His characters are tightly wound and speak in explosive bursts. "Fuck" is definitely his favorite word, and he uses it quite comfortably as several different parts of speech! The play, like the characters, was also tightly wound, with three acts lasting barely ninety minutes.

If you like your drama down-and-dirty and painfully intense, this one will please.

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