Writer: David Mamet
Director: Lindsay Posner
Reviewer: Cavelle Leigh
Speed-The-Plow, a play originating in 1988 tells the story of two American big wigs, big cheeses, or head honchoes as it were, keen to land their next big break as producers in Hollywood. Being in no way predictable both find themselves and their ambitions thwarted when a young and attractive secretarial temp Karen arrives.
This play has been the subject of much anticipation not least because controversial former child star Lindsay Lohan is one of its three stars. One didn’t only wonder would she turn up?, would she be sober?, but also, if so, would she able to act? As one willing to give each a second chance, one is pleased to report that she was punctual, professional and yes, could actually act. Never mind that the part wasn’t overly challenging and necessitated approximately forty minutes maximum of on stage performance.
Set in the office of Hollywood giants Fox &Gould, Bobby Gould (Richard Schiff) has recently been given the enviable position of head of production, assisted by his lowlier yet loyal associate Charlie Fox (Nigel Lindsay). It opens with Fox ecstatic to tell Gould that he potentially has a major movie star interested in their next production, one who has previously been exclusively signed to another studio; an enthusiasm short-lived when he realises Gould’s priorities lie elsewhere; lying perhaps, in bed with Karen. Arrogantly Fox presumes Karen is neither casually promiscuous nor so ruthlessly ambitious to sleep around to get to the top. Cue a bet with Gould for $500 that he won’t be able to sleep with her.
Overly eager, star-struck and dumbfounded Karen tells Gould she’d do anything to further herself in Hollywood. Naturally he invites her to read a book that may be adapted for film and critique it later back at his. She later arrives, and in a much more amusing second half, talks animatedly and philosophically about how worthy the said book (about radiation?!) is. Gould, though quite taken aback by her enthusiasm, has just one thing on his mind and so demonstrates that he cares little none-the-less. Not until he realises this will do nothing to seduce her after which he agrees with anything and everything she says to in an effort to appease her.
The following day Fox is fuming to find that gullible Gould, spell-bound, has opted to fund the book adaptation rather than the Hollywood blockbuster with the megabucks star. Cue a physical fight, before Karen admitting her cynical reason for sleeping with Gould, when consequently it seems the audience returns full circle to Act One.
The production itself is well produced and the actors able, though there is little to work with. Its themes and associated script belong where it began, the 80s. It amuses, engages and shocks no-one in this cynical day and age that a successful older man could be swayed by a young attractive woman, nor that she could be bought by one so rich and powerful, especially not in an oft shallow and vacuous Hollywood, and certainly not in the 21st century- when everyone it seems would do anything for a quick buck or 15 minutes of fame. Sad but true. Perhaps it could be adapted for contemporary times, certainly a rework is needed.
Runs until Saturday 29th November 2014| PhotoSimon Annand