Review "Mamet Repertory": Cox-ed for Success!

American Theatre Company presents
THE MAMET REPERTORY: "OLEANNA" and "SPEED-THE-PLOW"
At 1909 W. Byron Street

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Written by David Mamet
Directed by Rick Snyder
"OLEANNA" Thru October 30th
"SPEED-THE-PLOW" Thru October 31st
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Running Times:  "OLEANNA" is sixty minutes. "SPEED-THE-PLOW" is eighty minutes.  No intermissions.

Reviewed by Katy Walsh

'You asked me to come.  I don't understand.'  Common language and a transformational theme Cox-nect a college professor to a movie producer.   American Theatre Company presents THE MAMET REPERTORY: "OLEANNA" and "SPEED-THE-PLOW." Two plays written by David Mamet. Chicago-based actor Darrell W. Cox teams up with his KILLER JOE director Rick Snyder to provide emotional drama at Mamet proportions!  "OLEANNA" is about a tenure-bound college professor confronted by a disgruntled student.  The lesson to be learned spirals out-of-control with escalating intensity.  "SPEED-THE-PLOW" has a movie deal being threatened by conscience.  A diehard executive is pitted against his smarmy film pal and an ethical temp.  In Mamet tradition, the band-aid is ripped off, pulling hair and exposing flesh.        

"OLEANNA"
'I think that the ideas contained in this work express the author's feelings in a way that he intended based on his results.'  A student's book review says nothing.  She challenges her grade on the paper anyway.  The professor lectures her in a private tutorial.  In between telephone calls from his wife and realtor, the tenure-bound professor monologues his philosophy on the relevance of grades in general, academia as warehousing the young and hazing as ritual annoyances.  The professor fails to connect with the student.  In retaliation, she uses 'the system' to attack his tenure, his book and his dignity. 

Under Rick Snyder's direction, Cox masterfully declines from pompous professor to victim as Nicole Lowrance rises from helpless student to attacker.  Defeatism is the heart-wrenching disconnections.  Failure of the characters to empathize drives the intensity to a startling conclusion.   Cox engages in all aspects of his persona.  Either as the arrogant blowhole or pending unemployed, Cox flaunts his human frailty with an authentic presence.  I think the ideas contained in this work express Mamet's feelings in a way that he intended based on Cox's results. 
 
"SPEED-THE-PLOW"
'He likes his coffee like he likes his movies with nothing in it!'  Bobby Gould is a high ranking film executive.  Charlie Fox wants to be a Hollywood player.  Charlie brings Bobby a prison movie deal with star power.  Karen is the temporary secretary that Bobby wants to screw.  Under the pretense of briefing him on a radiation script, Bobby has Karen come to his house.  Karen convinces him to champion radiation over prison.  They have sex.  Who seduced who?  The next day Bobby struggles with his conscience to do the right thing verses doing the usual thing.  Both fighting for a piece of him, Charlie and Karen add to his soulful turmoil.

Lance Baker (Charlie) and Cox are hysterical in the-behind-scenes play about movie negotiations.  Mamet's irreverent and politically in-correct dialogue is delivered with surly deliciousness.   Baker and Cox's conversation is pure boys'-club-meet-up-in-the-locker-room sans the towel snapping.  Their doubletalk is temporarily interrupted with Lowrence's fresh perspective on the industry standard.  Lowrence's earnest script pitch is the catalyst to a Cox conversion and reconversion.  Cox goes 360 taking every angle to its true intersection.   
 
Although the MAMET REPERTORY has "OLEANNA" and "SPEED-THE-PLOW" featured individually on opposite nights, opening night was a double play.  Watching the Cox conversion during each show was as intriguing as observing his makeover from show to show.   Darrell W. Cox showcases all the anger and underlying humor a Mamet-palooza promises.  With Snyder's slant and ensemble support, the MAMET REPERTORY is Cox-ed for success!    

Always up for a Mamet-fest, Tom describes "OLEANNA" with 'riveting word war' and "SPEED-THE-PLOW" with 'City of Devils.'

WAITING FOR THE SHOW
Initially, I didn't understand a 45 minute break in-between shows on opening night.  It seemed unnecessary.  After experiencing "OLEANNA", I needed a 45 minute respite and a glass of wine.  Tom and I wandered down to the Brownstone Tavern, 3937 N. Lincoln.  The server and manager were very friendly and attentive.  They easily met our required timeframe for the pending curtain.  After a glass of wine and the Merkt burger, the band-aid was back on the affected area.  With the temporary solution in place, I headed back for the next round in the Mamet-fest.

   

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