David Mamet’s Speed the Plow at the Old Vic

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Tonight we joined the West End Whingers and krewe at the Old Vic and saw David Mamet’s Speed the Plow, which is apparently still in previews. We had seats that were amazingly close to the stage – only four rows back! – but this was a bit irritating as the first several rows slope DOWN from the stage instead of up.

Given that I still haven’t reviewed Othello at the Donmar (but what’s the point, really, it’s sold out for months), I probably shouldn’t be writing this show up, but I don’t want to just let it slip.

In short:
1. I thought I saw Lyle Lovett in the bar.
2. I thought I saw the guy who was in The Big Chill on the stage, and apparently I was right. He is much sexier as a grownup than he was when he was young. It seems like he was in some other movies, too, but I liked him better on stage than in any of them. I am very bad with celebrities and it would be sad if I cared – I mean, I should really pay attention to who’s in the plays I’m going to see, but it’s really hard to give a rip about some Hollywood actor – but what matters is that he was fun to watch on stage and gave a mostly decent performance. (I disliked that he sounded so much like the other character, but I think that might be the fault of the author and not the performer.)
3. Mamet can’t write female characters.
4. There was no plow.
5. I got dizzy sitting so close to the stage and having a giant head blocking my view of the middle of it for most of the first scene – somehow combined with the unrelenting, rapid-fire dialogue I felt like I was getting motion sickness. The wine I had beforehand might have played a part in it but I blame the Old Vic and Mamet instead.
6. I know Laura Michelle Kelly was supposed to be reading out of a really crappy book in the second scene, but instead it seemed like she was reading a script with a really crappy extended monologue and just not getting how to say it. Perhaps she will improve as time goes on and the cast settles in a bit more.
7. There was some really funny one-liners in there, but I can’t remember any of them now as they were blocked by the monotony of the tone of the first scene and the wretchedness of the book in the second.
8. I really want to see Dirty Little Showtunes and Nick Garrison again, apropos of nothing.
9. On the way back, we met some people who said of the show, “Outstanding acting! Great writing! A total standing ovation!” J thought they must not get out much, and I thought they must have been either Kevin Spacey or Jeff Goldblum fans, or both. At any rate, NOT a total standing O at all, but it may get a little better over time. It wasn’t a bad night out on the whole.
10. It’s sad to be as excited as I was when I discovered that there was to be no intermission and the whole thing was going to be over at 9 PM, but that’s the joy of the unshakeable cold (and the husband with a broken foot) for you.

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2 Responses to “David Mamet’s Speed the Plow at the Old Vic”

  1. Review - Speed-the-Plow with Jeff Goldblum and Kevin Spacey, Old Vic, London « West End Whingers Says:

    [...] just enough to effect a group booking which brought the £45 seats down to £25) – some dragged from their sickbeds – to see David Mamet’s 1988 play Speed-the-Plow. Or rather to see the stars in [...]

  2. keithmansfield Says:

    Didn’t see it till yesterday – and after reading this I’m glad I sat a bit further back. Had the radiation book been interesting I thought the second part would have been better and the play more provocative, but as it was the prison movie had to be the best option.

    The third part seemed much the best (and the best acted), so maybe, getting the audience to leave on a high, was how the standing O comments came about. Mine was the understudy version – I put a little review up today.

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