David Mamet is extolled for his raffish work, which typically encompasses elaborate cons, beleaguered masculinity, and canny dissections of greed and corporate culture: His play Speed-the-Plow employs the same rapid-fire dialogue and coarse candor that have made his career. Considering that Mamet has been a Tinseltown detractor for years, it's appropriate that this production is a dark farce about the skullduggery of the film industry. Charlie Fox and Bobbie Gould are the two show-biz suits at the heart of the play, who together have toiled up the ranks, from mailroom to board room. Fox enlists the help of Gould in making a buddy film -- a prison-break piece that's both vapid and brutal, but attached to a star and destined to make bank. Gould's not totally taken by the mercenary claptrap, however, and is convinced by his minxy secretary Karen to do the noble thing: abjure the profit and get behind an artsy project on Eastern mysticism. But what we're presented with is not a romanticized Hollywood in which the fruits of creativity are at long last realized. Even when pushing the big sell is called into question, Mamet seems to suggest that Gould's wishy-washy interest in art for art's sake is just an extension of his own ego and sentimentality. In light of the recent writers' strike, Mamet's depiction of bigwig power plays is particularly scathing. In the end, Fox and Gould's film industry isn't about the people or the project at hand -- it's about the bottom line and the sneering edict at the heart of the play: "There's no such thing as a good film that loses money."
Previews start tonight at 8.
Jan. 9-Feb. 3, 2008