Theater Review: Goodman offers David Mamet Festival

My first experience with the work of David Mamet came at a performance of American Buffalo. J.R. Sullivan’s production upstairs at Charlotte’s Web featured Neil Thackaberry and Barry Nyquist. The heat had not been turned on, but the language was torrid. After the show, I asked Thackaberry how it was possible to learn the dialogue, and he said it was much like poetry… it had a rhythm. In an interview in 1977, Mamet said nearly the same thing, “My main emphasis is on the rhythm of language.”

Romance is another example of male interaction and discourse. Set in Matt DeCaro’s courtroom, he plays the erratic Judge with mood swings that go from sensible to insane. Popping pills supplied by his bailiff, Ron OJ Parson, he presides over complete chaos. Christian Stolte, the Defense Attorney, has David Pasquesi for his client, and prosecuting him is Steve Pickering.

The complications become the main focus, and Mamet takes aim at world peace, Jews, gays, Catholics, podiatrists, chiropractors, Shakespeare and lawyers. The entire audience becomes victims of his biting satire.

John Mahoney was to have starred in the production, but before opening became ill with pancreatis. He has recovered.

The Mamet Festival continues with Romance playing through April 23, The Revenge of the Space Pandas or Binky Rudich and the Two Speed Clock through April 22, and Three Evenings of One-Act Plays through April 23. The themes are Homecomings, Daughters, Sisters and Mothers, and Ghost Stories.

Mamet’s beginnings in Chicago make him as Robert Falls, artistic director at the Goodman, says, “‘playwright laureate’ for the city…his subjects, settings, and periods, his language and rhythms are still those of Clark Street.”

Tickets are a bargain and may be purchased at the box office at (312) 443-3800 or online at


In the April 5-11, 2006, issue of The Rock River Times, my review of Stones in His Pocket referred to J.R. Sullivan. The statement, “His contradictions to the arts” should have read, “His contributions to the arts.”

From the April 12-18, 2006, issue

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