(Seen at the afternoon preview performance on 25th April 2015).
Mamet's plays have a unique spoken rhythm. It takes time to get used to, and, as
this early play demonstrates, time for him to perfect. Not only are the words
stilted, but they jerk towards no particular conclusion - and that's irritating
given the attention demanded to understand the language to begin with.
Against that, Mamet does plough deeper than many later plays into the working
male psychology. Always cheating and risking being cheated - and paranoid about
it. The casual accusation and dismissal of all persons around them, friends,
lovers, wives are a defence that the on-stage trio demonstrate to perfection.
For this is a rare opportunity to see John Goodman in action, with able
support from Damian Lewis and Tom Sturridge. The three manage to both define
themselves and a hierarchy with minimal support from the text, and even draw
some meaning from their situation that the script fails to provide.
While Goodman is the archetypal small shop owner with little knowledge,
playing effortlessly to his type; and Lewis turns in a slickness which helps
drive the play, it's Sturridge who gets the most interesting role. His final
scenes are well-judged as the audience re-considers just where he stands in the
organisation and what he might be.
Well staged, excellent work from Paul Wills in design in particular (a
near-lethal chair hurtling floorwards and other items threatening the front row
monkey couldn't help feeling that had this play not had the cast, it may not
have quite enjoyed the ticket sales on the basis of the story alone. For fans of
the actors and those wishing to see a rare Mamet, really.