Here's the thing about Mamet. I respect his talent. I acknowledge his gifts. I occasionally enjoy his plays. I just don't him very much. And by him, I mean his P.O.V., his voice. I don't know the man personally. I know all this sounds sacrilegious coming from an actor, but from a woman? Not so much.
Re-reading Speed-the-Plow, I found myself wanting so much to feel moved by these men. I wanted to root for them, I wanted to side with them. But.. I just can't. I felt slightly sympathetic towards the plight of Gould - being a high-powered executive and feeling that everyone wants something from you.. not knowing who your friends truly are, that's tough. But when you're such an asshole and a corporate whore, aren't you kinda getting what's coming to you? At the same time, I couldn't root for Karen either. Hers is a more subtle and seductive manipulation, but for once can Mamet not write a woman who is either a puppet or a bitch? Look at me, just writing about Mamet makes me curse. It's rubbing off. Anyway, I wasn't moved by her either.
Mostly what bothers me about this play is its essential message. At the beginning we see two jaded Hollywood execs rejoicing over their next conquest and it's business-as-usual. Temp-worker Karen changes things by convincing Gould to make a movie that is about more than the bottom line. It is about the heart of humanity and what we feel and our fears. Sure, it sounds ridiculous the way Mamet writes it - all that gibberish about the radiation and visions of infinity, but this is a basic good v. evil situation. And evil wins out. They decide to make the same crap movies that they always make. There is a brief glimmer of hope when Gould says to Fox:
I don't think that we have to mock the possibility that someone could find something that meant something to them.But Fox convinces Gould that Karen is just playing him for a fool and that he's blinded by lust and making this "Eastern philosophy" movie will, essentially, get him fired. Way to dash our dreams Mamet. Now, wait a minute Lauren, you may be saying.. perhaps Mamet has written this whole play just so that we can see Hollywood for what it really is, and can therefore change it! And loyal reader, I sure hope you're right, and I invite you to argue with me, but deep down inside I believe that Mamet feels like Gould when he says:
I wanted to do Good... But I became foolish.Perhaps we all need to look a little foolish in order to do some good in this world. Take the risk. It may be worth it. So thanks Mamet for getting me fired up, if there's one thing you do, you incite passion!
Saturday Play-a-day: The Drunkard or, The Fallen Saved by WM. H. Smith