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THEATER REVIEW: Speed the Plow

David Mamet’s Speed the Plow is heavy on the acting and Hollywood stars. Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

Location: Midtown West, NYC
Play: Speed the Plow
Show time: See website for dates and times; Through February 22, 2009
Venue: Ethel Barrymore Theater

Ok, so Jeremy “I-got’s-me-a-bunch-of-dem-Emmy-thingies-for-my-acting-in-Entourage Piven is the big draw for this revival of David Mamet’s 1988 satire, still there are other reasons to see Speed The Plow, currently playing at the Ethel Barrymore Theater. Yes, it’s true this is a three person cast and the lady of the show, Elisabeth Moss is competent enough-you might remember her from her stint on “The West Wing” and now on “Mad Men”-but anybody could have played the female part (Mamet’s not known for drawing very sympathetic women). But Raúl Esparza, of “Rocky Horror” and “Tabu” (back in the London production) is really what will pull you in and maybe even have you wanting to see this play a second time.

This is a simple fast-talking tale of Hollywood movie-making, with the main character Bobby Gould (played by Piven) loosing, searching, then maybe, maybe? gaining his soul at the end. Piven is as you’d expect him to be, using a lot less of his amazing bursts of physicality here then he needs as Ari Gold, still the guy commands space and gets down to the meat of what his movie producer is all about. In the third scene (there are three scenes in this play performed in an 85-minute one-act sans intermission) you really feel for the bedraggled Piven and the tortures of the soul he’s been through. But it is Esparza who shines. Like Kenickie to Danny in Grease or The Pirate King in Pirates Of Penzance, it is common for the second lead to shine…and here Esparza follows this tradition with his lanky intense portrayal pf Charlie Fox.

Well worth the 85 minute roller-coaster speed thru, this Mamet revival is garnishing some flack for aged concepts, but I feel the concerns here ring true even these many years on. Neil Pepe’s direction is flawless and this trio of actors is great in the machine-gun fire of Mamet’s snarking. Speed to Speed the Plow, it will be well worth your time.

Oh did I happen to mention how terrific Raúl Esparza is?

Ralph Greco, Jr.

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