Speed-the-Plow review - October 2014

Okay so the day finally arrived…after months and months of the most hotly anticipated stage debut in a generation and the day finally came. Lindsay Lohan on stage. YES!

So many were waiting for her to fail, so much so that I was feeling genuinely dismayed for her; at just 27 years old she has grown up in the public eye and both her successes and failures have been well documented. Honestly though guys, wouldn’t you HATE that. SO I made a valid choice when entering the Playhouse Theatre and that was just to treat this as much like any other play I have seen as possible. The production deserves that much, right?

I was not previously too familiar with Mamet’s text about two Hollywood producers and their temp secretary, Karen, but for me this production felt quite “safe” from start to finish. The show opens with some snappyish dialogue between Charlie Fox and the newly promoted Bobby Gould who are discussing their next big break. Debate about their “hot” secretary would in ordinary circumstances be nowhere near engaging enough to render her big reveal as a moment of dramatic poignancy, but in this production, out pops Lindsay Lohan, so all is forgiven!

There was so much inner turmoil going on at this point: can one be objective when it comes to Lindsay Lohan? I don’t know. But what I do know was that she was pretty good in those first (crucial) moments on stage.

In a role previously played by Madonna and Elizabeth Moss, I was pleasantly surprised that Lohan didn’t over sex the role of Karen. Whilst she proved she was not perhaps quite as naïve as she may have appeared in Act 1, Lohan kept her role sweet, so much so that I was actually rooting for her. GO ON LINDSAY…I mean er Karen…YOU CAN DO IT!

Richard Schiff was fantastic as the conflicted Bobby Gould; I loved his character development from power driven businessman to a hooked romantic. I also found Nigel Lindsay engaging as Charlie, however his character’s big climax at the end of Act Three felt rather forced and gave way to some pretty cringey moments of “stage combat.” Eek.

Whilst there was some punchy humour to the text, for me the play felt unforgivably chauvinistic and I couldn’t decipher whether this was intentional or Mamet is just a bit of an arse. Rather than appearing like a damning commentary on sexism, women were indeed portrayed as “tight pussy(s) rapped around ambition,” with only their looks to rely on for success. There was no redemption for Karen, who was awkwardly and actively slut shamed. As a feminist, this frustrated me no end.

I do have mixed feelings about the production, which I do feel was quite a low key interpretation; however I am confident it will find its feet. Whilst I also have a few mixed opinions on the text, I think the cast bring the piece alive. It was a real pleasure to watch the enigmatic Schiff for the first time and I felt a weird sense of inexplicable pride towards Lindsay Lohan for getting through the show mistake free and delivering a solid, if unremarkable, performance.

1 October 2014, Playhouse Theatre