2004Up one level
Volume 11: Reviews of Mamet's new play, Faustus, as well as the Prague Premiere of Sexual Perversity in Chicago, and productions of Speed-the-Plow in Baltimore and Squirrels in New Orleans. Two new books are reviewed, The Cambridge Companion to David Mamet and The Art of Crime: The Plays and Films of Harold Pinter and David Mamet. In addition, there is an overview of the Mamet in London conference and the annual bibliography.
An overview of the Second International Conference in London, June 10-12, 2004
The concept of hidden meaning is key to much of Mamet’s plays and films; we can cite as important examples the operations within Cryptogram or the disturbing and ironic free floating signifier of GROFAZ in Homicide. Indeed, the enigmatic ending of Dr. Faustus asks the viewer to interpret what is signified. Is it grace with knowledge or damnation through narcissism? In this new work, Mamet ventures into a provocative zone of artistic possibilities; yet he remains consistent with the larger unity of his oeuvre. At the same time he sustains and maintains a larger cultural tradition that surrounds the Faust legend.
Of course, an ingredient of all satire, even Mamet’s dark satire of Hollywood, is that it doesn’t have to be this way. But no hope lingers in the wings of this production. Nevertheless, Daniel Fish’s realization of this vintage Mamet expose is tight as a piano wire right to the end. The actors inhabit their characters with ferocious, dismaying believability.
Starring Julia Stiles and Aaron Eckhart, Shelley Manis finds " a more sympathetic approach to both characters, which left me stunned and delighted—something I never thought possible as one who has always found the character of Carol contemptible. The program places the action squarely in the context of the “PC debate” on college campuses, even discussing “actual precedents” to the “fictional conflict.” Director Lindsay Posner’s production keeps the focus specific enough to lead the audience into the murky waters of Oleanna’s volatile subject matter without a sense of personal danger."
As Arthur keeps retelling his story of the squirrel, Edmond keeps asking, as we do, what does this mean—and Arthur is stumped. Yet as the story is told and retold, together with clichés about storytelling (needing beginning middle and end, rising action, climax, falling action, etc.) the metastory emerges as a struggle to create a story. Edmond
An irony concerning this production is that it undercuts the idea that the early Mamet is strictly “a language playwright.” The play worked perfectly, even though we don’t understand a word of Czech. The play’s interaction of characters tells the story perfectly—beyond language.
If any doubts still lingered as to the security of David Mamet’s place in the American literary and theatrical canon, the playwright’s inclusion in this highly respected series should put those doubts to rest. This smart and comprehensive study of Mamet’s work to date is an indispensable starting point for the newcomer to Mamet, and a useful, readable, and thought-provoking survey for the rest of us.
Editor Leslie Kane provides a comprehensive introduction that positions a critical, historical, and dramaturgical context. This is a cogent collection that advances critical inquiry into the work of Pinter and Mamet in light of contemporary events and illuminates a crucial social and personal debate on social and moral crimes.
From time magazine review: www.time.com/.../article/0,9171,629321,00.html
Mamet directs Huffman and Rasche in Faustus
Dan and deb in bed
Mamet Directs Stinton as Friend (Fabian) in Faustus.