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“I believe in the yellow pages, but I don’t wanna film it.” So why do we need yet another Mamet revival? Only a month after seeing “November,” the Prague audience has a chance to catch “Speed-the-Plow,” one of the most celebrated Mamet’s plays that has been filling theatres since 1988.
Have you ever tried guns, booze, ambitions and swag soaked in satire? You get it all. The play is vigorously executed by Blood, Love and Rhetoric, the biggest Anglophone theatre in Prague. With only few derivations from the original play, Jim High, Madelyn Marcella and Logan Hillier make the spectators squeal with delight, providing them with an inside into the world of Hollywood movie makers: where people not only judge the book by its cover, but don’t go beyond reading it.
Supported by the sound of sirens, “California,” and “Candy Shop” the production benefits greatly from being connected to present-day in relations to time and place; a constant reference to a book by a local writer Louis Armand certainty emphasizes the fact that the show is from and for Prague.
Although the play relies largely on dialogue, one can hardly suffer from the lack of action.“Speed-the-Plow” is very stylish and juicy in all respects; vibrant characters excellently match their bright thought-out outfits. Yet once more, why Mamet? Well, it is after all the end of the world. Again.
David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow” found a valuable production in the hands of Logan Hillier, Jim High, and Martina Madisonova of the Prague-based theatre company Blood, Love and Rhetoric.
On the third weekend of December, David Mamet´s “Speed-the-Plow” was performed in Studio Alt@. The play describes the treacherous environment of American film business.
The end of the world was nigh (yet not enough), and the radiating lights succeeded in creating a heatful air from the very first scene. After all, we were in Hollywood. The minimalistic scene enables the actors to overshadow the spotlights, in whose focus many an “epiphany” takes place. Indeed, all the three characters – Karen with her distracting sex-appeal (Madelyn Marcella), slightly neurotic Bobby (Jim High), and egotistically loyal Charlie (Logan Hillier) – all of them shine perfectly.
The slight recontextualisations the production takes the liberty of doing endow the play with yet more content to be laughed at, such as the memorable propping and replacing the Vlak magazine, and his author, Louis Armand, with an unfilmable “deep” novel. Of course this little detail adds a humorous tinge only to those familiar with the propagator of Anglophone culture in Prague, the important part of which Blood, Love and Rhetoric is; still it is a production that keeps entertained not only the fans of this indisputably great figure of American drama today, but even the ones not so head-over-heels in love with Mamet.
Bobby Gould, a newly appointed big league producer, and Charlie Fox, his longtime associate, are going to make a film with Tom Cruise and two other celebrities, and the lives of both producers are about to change dramatically. Gould´s temporary secretary, Karen, spoils the promising-looking situation though, when she comes up with an idea to make a different movie based on a book about the end of the world. In order to achieve her goal, she seduces Gould and makes him change his opinion. The morning after, however, Gould, with Fox´s help, realizes the true nature of Karen’s behavior and goes back to Cruise´’s movie.
Jim High puts up a steady, confident performance as he links well with Logan Hillier, who plays the self-seeking Charlie Fox. It is Hillier who makes the most of his part – he is hilariously entertaining, no matter if he laments, swears, or pulls a gun out of his pocket. Madelyn Marcella does not seem to match the brilliance of her colleagues at first, but she significantly improves later in the play. A perfect example of this is in Act 2, when she wins over the audience with her skillful and highly believable seduction techniques.
The slightly modernized “Speed-the-Plow” surely entertains and is hopefully going to be staged again next year.