The Mamet Repertory: Oleanna and Speed-the-Plow

Oleannathe mamet repertory oleanna and speed-the-plow at act

By David Mamet

Directed by Rick Snyder

At American Theater Company (ACT), Chicago

Explosive look at political correctness pits student against the professor.

David Mamet’s 1992 play, Oleanna, is a powerful early take on political correctness influenced by the Clarance Thomas confirmation hearings. We meet a petite girl-next door student, Carol (Nicole Lowrance) who appears to seek guidance from her professor, John (Darrell W. Cox).  John is busy with his purchase of a mew home and his tenure advancement at the university.

the mamet repertory oleanna and speed-the-plow at act

Carol claims she can’t understand John’s classes claiming that she must be stupid. John is an arrogant, self-righteous academic who actually questions the merit of college.  John falls into Carol’s feminist, ant-male, anti-power agenda as the seemingly sweet student is really a mean-spirited idealist bent on entrapping John in an effort to destroy him. She claims sexual harassment by John.

As the plot emerges, we see how vicious Carol can be with her half-truths that will destroy John’s life. The explosive last few minutes will shock you to your core. Darrell W. Cox is amazing as he moves from cocky pompous professor to an enraged soul. See this 65 minute on act. Oleanna is play in rotating repertory with Speed-the-Plow.

Highly Recommended

Jeff Recommended

At ATC, 1909 W. Byron, Chicago, IL, call 773-409-4125, www.atcweb.org, tickets $35 – $40, running time is 1 hour 10 minutes, Sept. 24, 26, 30, Oct. 2,8, 10, 14,16, 22, 24 at 8 pm; Sept 25 & Oct 3, 9, 17, 23 at 3 pm.

Speed-the-Plow

By David Mamet

Directed by Rick Snyder

At ATC, Chicago

Mamet speak is in full bloom in this scathing attack on Hollywood

David Mamet’s 1988 one act, Speed-the-Plow satirical dissection of the American movie business. Filled with rapid-fire and repetitious speech pasterns that became a Mamet trade mark, Speed-the-Plow features two linguistic marvels – Darrell W. Cox as Bobby Gould and Lance Baker as Charlie Fox. These two film producers have a star actor committed to the next action-packed blockbuster. The two extol their acumen as they celebrate their good fortune. When a beautiful idealistic secretary Karen (Nicole Lowrance) extols the virtues of an end-of-the-world novel to Bobby, he has an epiphany of sorts. Charlie has to intimate, guilt trip and brow-beat Bobby back to his greedy Hollywood producer self. The result is a funny, biting satire filled with razor-sharp dialogue as only Mamet can create.

the mamet repertory oleanna and speed-the-plow at act

Both plays are highly recommended since each are filled with strong, emotionally wrenching performances. Director Rick Snyder lets his fine cast go for all the intensity contained. Cox and Baker quickly established a workable stage chemistry.  These three actors sure leave it all on stage in these two short gems by one of America’s leading playwrights.  Catch both plays-and for a massive jolt of Mamet, see both on the same day.

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Date Reviewed: September 20, 2010

Jeff Recommended

For full show information, check out the Speed-the-Plow page at TheatreInChicago.

At ACT, tickets $35 – $40, running time is 1 hour, 20 minutes without intermission, Sept. 23, 25, Oct. 1, 3, 7, 9, 15, 17, 21, 23 at 8 pm; Sept. 26, Oct 2,10,16,24 at 3pm., www.atcweb.org