Theatre: Speed the Plow



It had been over a week since I had been to the theatre so a trip with the West End Whingers to see Speed The Plow at the Old Vic on Tuesday evening seemed like a jolly good idea. Even better due to the fact it starred Kevin Spacey, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Michelle Kelly (who is currently gracing our screens as the warty mad woman in Sweeney Todd).

Mind you when I told a friend that I saw Kevin Spacey at the Old Vic I was informed that he is in every friggin' thing at the Old Vic regardless of how miscast he has been. Well everyone's a critic I suppose. Still there was lots to enjoy about David Mamet's play about Hollywood execs debating the merits of artistic and commercial success. And in between it all is an ambiguous secretary upsetting the manliness of it all. I say ambiguous because depending on whether you could ignore or put up with the secretary probably depends on how much you enjoy this play. Spacey and Goldblum are excellent but when it came to discussing the role of the secretary everyone had a different opinion:
Oh I got bored listening to her monologue in the second scene so just admired the rooftop plants...
She just droned on and on...
The role wasn't written right...
I didn't get what she was saying...
An intermission would have helped with the second scene as I could have had more gin...
She was miscast...
Did anyone else notice that circle bed in the second scene?
Mamet doesn't write good women's roles does he...
Why didn't she just shut uuuuup?
She wasn't a character but a vague set of statements collected by the playwright...
I didn't recognise her without her warts...
Why was she wanting to make a film about radiation?

In the end I decided it was just Mamet's way to just wind us all up. It certainly worked a charm on the young American boys and girls in the first few rows who mistook the ambiguity for some scheming superbitch and cheered and whooped when she got her comeuppance. It is always a bit embarrassing when you are with a stupid audience, particularly when you are so close to the stage as it is like you can feel the cast ridiculing you... Still when it is Spacey, Goldblum (filling out a suit quite nicely for someone in their fifties), and Laura on stage it is probably some ridicule that you could put up with. It is running for the next few months and one suspects it will be a hit regardless of who gets the point of the secretary and who doesn't.

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