Craig Erickson and Kayla Deorksen in the Mitch and Murray Productions presentation of Speed-the-Plow.
Craig Erickson and Kayla Deorksen in the Mitch and Murray Productions presentation of Speed-the-Plow.

In true Mamet style, Speed-the-Plow sees the male ego, Hollywood, and the ugliness of the American dream laid bare and skewered in a sparse 80 minutes. Mitch and Murray Productions’ version takes Mamet’s words and builds a show that is a finely wrought treat of contemporary theatre.

[pullquote]Speed-The-Plow is a beautifully produced rendition of a classic piece of contemporary theatre. If you like fine acting, thoughtful theatre, and beautiful design, Speed-The-Plow is the show you’ve been waiting for. It’s an intellectual treat for the age of reality television.[/pullquote]Speed-the-Plow covers well-trodden ground. Two movie producers are excited by a generic buddy film opportunity. However, the senior producer, Bobby, is swayed at the last minute towards a more artistic possibility by his new secretary Karen.

It is a play that asks “what do you really want?” of every character and seeks to show us, not tell us, the answer. For Charlie, a brilliantly wheedling Aaron Craven, this is simple. He wants to move up to the “next level”. How that happens is irrelevant. For Karen, an understated Kayla Deorksen, the answer is never explicit but seems to be the power to create art. But for Bobby, played by a wonderfully elastic Craig Erickson, the question is not so simple. What is more important? Money and career success? Meaningful artistic fulfillment? Or simply being loved for who you are? Can you have it all?

Speed-The-Plow is a feast for the ears and for the brain. The actors’ delivery of the often halting Mamet-speak lines is quick, seamless, and utterly realistic. The questions raised are juicy without being preachy, and the humour is ever present. There are countless moments where you may find yourself unsure why you are laughing, but the relationships, the situation, and the sheer believability of the events provokes almost continuous laughter. It is funnier than you would think Mamet could be, but it is humour with intellectual weight.

The work of set designer David Roberts and lighting designer Gerald King truly impresses. Rather than use simple blackouts to transition between scenes, a soft half-light is used along with mood music such as Lana Del Rey while the actors, unhurried, move seamlessly and believably from office to home, kicking off shoes, and reclining with a glass of wine. It’s like watching an art-house film.

Speed-The-Plow is a beautifully produced rendition of a classic piece of contemporary theatre. If you like fine acting, thoughtful theatre, and beautiful design, Speed-The-Plow is the show you’ve been waiting for. It’s an intellectual treat for the age of reality television.

Speed-The-Plow written by David Mamet. Directed by David Mackay. A Mitch and Murray Productions presentation. On stage at Studio 16 (1555 West 7 Ave) until November 29. Visit http://mitchandmurrayproductions.com for tickets and information.

Vancouver Presents

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