Soulpepper’s production of David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow is a summer must see. Under the expert direction of David Storch you are in for an exhilarating and entertaining journey.
Speed-the-Plow takes you inside the world of the American movie business. The wheeling and dealing, the dirty deals and the all consuming desire to make money. The play is comprised of three intense scenes. The premise is simple but Mamet’s sharp, intense, and funny script keeps you on the edge of your seat.
Bobby (Ari Cohen) is a successfulHollywoodproducer who has just been named head of production. His colleague Charlie (Jordan Pettle) comes to his office bursting with excitement because a major star has approached him to produce an awful prison film which will conceivably make everyone a lot of money and give Charlie his long sought after executive producer credit.
Enter Karen the temporary secretary to put a kink in the works. Bobby asks Karen to give an arty book about radiation a courtesy read and give a report later that evening. This is a ploy to get her over to his place so he can get laid. He has made a bet with Charlie for $500 that he can bed the temporary girl. Karen loves the book and convinces Bobby that it will change people’s lives with its redemptive powers and themes of purity. Karen’s impassioned endorsement of the book and her sex appeal convinces Bobby to make the radiation movie that no one will see instead of the prison movie that will be a sure money maker. The conflict over doing something that will make money over something that has meaning plays out in the final scene.
Mamet scripts require tremendous acting chops to pull off successfully and there is no shortage here with Cohen, Pettle, and Wilson. There is a musicality to the script and these players did not miss a note. I wouldn’t have necessarily envisioned casting Cohen and Pettle in these über macho roles but they definitely make it work. Cohen plays the powerful and in control Gould, while Pettle bounds around the stage as the hungry Fox withWilsoncapturing the sincerity of Karen. Of course nothing is what it seems. These characters all have so much more going on than the broad strokes and you are taken down many interesting side roads along the way.
Karen has the least defined character in many respects soWilsonhad to work harder to build the necessary layers to give her complexity. The men definitely have the juicier roles and it was like watching a verbal boxing match. The words flew around the stage like fists in a ring with typical Mamet rapid fire dialogue. Pettle especially shone in his struggle to keep his footing in this nebulous and fickle world.
Dana Osborne brings this slick world alive with simple yet stylish costumes and set design. I especially liked the view of LA from the Hollywood Hills during the second scene at Bobby’s house.
Once again, Soulpepper has thrilled me with its showcase of fine acting, smart direction and tight production values.
Speed-the-Plow runs through September 22. For more information and tickets visit: http://soulpepper.ca/